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Species, Part 1: Wild hogs cause crop damage in Florida

11:00 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Wild hogs are not new to Florida but they're also not native.

They may have been introduced by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto as early as the 1500s.
    
But it's not just woods where you can find them ... they're also in residential neighborhoods ... causing a lot of damage.

A feral hog only about two months old may look harmless, but it can grow to 400 pounds.

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"This is a hog I actually caught in Nocatee area with dogs. He was around 400 lbs. We actually couldn't move him," said Ryan Boyd with Quick Catch. "I've heard of them eating young calves, baby deer. We've actually caught some that we've harvested and found baby deer hooves inside so they are omnivores. They are going to go for whatever they can find to eat and thrive and stay alive."

Boyd, with Quick Catch, a nuisance wildlife trapping company, said wild hogs are a huge problem on the First Coast.

"This is their nose here. This little thing right here is like a shovel. That's what they use to root up the dirt and all the grass and landscape and whatever you've got planted they are going to root up," said Boyd.

Or, Boyd said, "they cause a lot of crop damage, agricultural damage. There nose is pretty much a shovel and they can smell way below the soil. So if they smell a root or earthworm or grub or insect they are going to root it up or do whatever they need to to get to it. So they cause a lot of destruction."

Researchers say a conservative estimate of the cost of wild hog damage to agriculture and the environment in the U.S. currently stands at $1.5 billion dollars annually.

"These came out of the Nocatee area. Mickler and A1A, Ponte Vedra. It's a big issue. I've had them over in Oakleaf on the Westside of Jacksonville. I've had them in Mandarin. I've had calls from pretty much all over," Boyd said.

Florida actually ranks second in the nation when it comes to wild hogs. It's believed there are more than 500,000 in the state.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission said wild hogs can carry some nasty diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

"They carry Brucellosis," Boyd said. "E. Coli is another disease they carry through their droppings and it can contaminate water systems. So they are not good to have around."

First Coast News

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