Florida is home to absolutely incredible wildlife. While the Sunshine State is known for alligators, a variety of animals live here. Deer, cuddly woodland mammals, reptiles, snakes, birds, and even panthers wander in Florida’s vast outdoor spaces. However, many people want to know: are there wild hogs in Florida?
There are wild hogs in Florida. Florida is estimated to have between 500,000 and 1 million wild hogs. They are commonly seen in forests with dense underbrush but can sometimes be seen near developed areas. Hogs are considered invasive, which makes them popular for hunting.
So, where exactly do hogs live? Do they cause damage to fields and woodlands? Are they aggressive, and can you shoot them? In the following sections, you will find the answers to these hog questions and more!
Bacon at the Beach: Wild Hogs in Florida
Florida is home to a huge diversity of wildlife, including wild hogs. The variety of hog found in Florida is known as Sus Scrofa, or just as a wild hog. It is also sometimes called a wild boar, feral hog, feral pig, feral swine, or wild pig. If it’s four-legged and hairy with tusks, it’s almost certainly Sus Scrofa, regardless of what people call it.
While some people speak of hogs achieving legendary sizes of 500 pounds or more, the average wild hog in Florida will weigh somewhere between 100 and 150 pounds. They can grow to be as long as five or six feet, so they’re about the size of a person. They’re not inherently violent animals, but it’s best to keep a cautious distance if you spot hogs in the wild.
If you want to see wild boars in Florida, you should head to forests with solid ground cover. Wild pigs love to root around in the underbrush for berries, grubs, nuts, roots, tubers, and even small mammals or bird’s eggs.
Like humans, wild pigs are omnivorous and will eat more or less anything. As a result, local wildlife preserves, wildlife management areas, state parks, and national parks are great places to look for boars.
How Many Wild Boars are There in Florida?
Some estimates maintain there may be as many as a million boars in Florida, but according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, Florida has a population of about 500,000 wild boars.
Wild hogs can be found just about anywhere in the state. While they don’t like humans and won’t actively engage them, you can easily find them in the woods around subdivisions or in local nature preserves.
However, boars prefer to live in more remote locations, ideally forests with dense underbrush, access to fresh water, and few people.
What Part of Florida has the Most Wild Hogs?
Wild hogs prefer wildlands. In Florida, the highest density of feral hogs is concentrated in the areas to the north and west of Lake Okeechobee. Much of the land around the lake remains wild and relatively undeveloped, making it very hospitable for hogs. However, hogs can be found in all of Florida’s 67 counties, and they are known to be highly adaptable animals.
Are Wild Hogs Invasive in Florida?
Wild hogs are not native to Florida and are considered invasive. Unfortunately, they are one of the more successful invasive species, as they’ve developed a population of at least half a million individuals and are relatively common animals throughout the state. It’s thought that hogs originally came to Florida in the 1500s when explorer Hernando DeSoto arrived to claim Florida for the Spanish.
It was not uncommon for explorers at the time to bring game animals like hogs to seed foreign lands with. Unfortunately, Spanish explorers in the 1500s did not have a concept of invasive species or ecosystems and simply didn’t know better than to release invasive species like hogs into foreign lands like Florida.
How Much Damage Do Wild Hogs Cause in Florida?
Wild hogs can cause a great deal of damage. Most of their damage comes from a behavior known as “rooting.” This practice is when hogs use their snouts to dig in the soil, leaf litter, and brush while foraging for food. This rooting makes the land look like someone has plowed through it with a tractor and can be devastating to crops, plants, and delicate ecosystems.
Hogs can also be destructive to agricultural equipment. In their quest for forage, they have been known to knock over, trample, chew, or otherwise mangle irrigation equipment and other farm hardware. Some scientists estimate that hogs cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to cattle pastures in Florida alone.
Hogs can also be a biohazard. Hunting dogs, household dogs, and cats have been known to contract pseudorabies from contact with wild hogs — this problem is especially prevalent in hunting dogs who will bite hogs or consume raw hog meat.
Hogs also carry a bacteria known as Brucella Suis, which causes a condition known as brucellosis in humans. Brucellosis is treatable and has a very low mortality rate when treated by bona fide doctors but can be fatal if ignored or untreated.
Phenomenal Florida Fun Fact: Wild hogs have an incredible sense of smell and can detect edible roots buried as deep as ten inches below the surface, and this is why they will sometimes root through yards, gardens, and crop fields.
Other Posts of Interest
- Are There Deer In Florida?
- Does Florida Have Pythons?
- What Kind Of Fish Are In Biscayne Bay?
- Which Florida Coast Is Better for Fishing?
Are Wild Boars in Florida Dangerous, and Are They Aggressive?
Wild boars look cute and adorable, but they are notoriously dangerous animals. Boars can be heavy, some weighing more than 150 pounds, and they can run more than 30 miles per hour – that’s faster than world-famous Olympian Usain Bolt! In addition, they have powerful jaws that can crack open hard nuts and can also crack human bones.
Boars can become aggressive to human beings. However, wild hogs generally prefer to flee rather than fight. The two most common causes of aggression are when humans are agitating hogs by hunting or harassing them and when humans mistakenly get between a sow and her young. While fatalities are rare — Texas A&M University reports about 5 to 7 hog-induced deaths nationwide per year — hogs can kill human beings.
If you see wild boars while out traipsing through the woods in Florida, your best bet is to keep a safe distance. In the unlikely event that you need to flee from a hog, climbing a tree or climbing high rocks is your best bet: hogs are not great at climbing and will eventually give up and wander off.
Can You Shoot Wild Hogs in Florida?
Wild hogs are considered an invasive species in Florida, and as such, it is more or less open season on them. Fish and Wildlife Commission Rules are that, as long as you have the permission of the landowner,
“hogs may be trapped, shot, or hunted year-round with no fees, licenses, or permits required…Poisoning wild hogs is prohibited.”
You do not need a permit to use a gun when hunting hogs, but responsible hunters will obtain firearms training and follow all firearm safety rules to avoid any unfortunate hunting accidents.
Is There a Hog Season in Florida?
There are many specific seasons for hunting in Florida, but hog hunters here are in hog heaven: there is not a hog season in Florida. Hogs are considered nuisance animals and are an invasive species, so as long as you have permission from whoever owns the land you’re on, you can shoot hogs year-round.
Hog hunting is a very popular activity in many parts of Florida. It’s not uncommon to see trucks outfitted with hunting dogs and off-roading gear driving the back roads. If you want to hunt with dogs, check the most current FWC regulations.
Do You Need a Hunting License to Kill Hogs in Florida?
Hunters in Florida need hunting licenses to harvest certain animals, such as deer, turkey, and waterfowl. However, hunters who wish to capture their own free-range bacon and grass-fed pork chops may hunt hogs without a license, as long as they have the permission of the landowner. State-owned land has some requirements.
Where Can I Hunt Hogs for Free in Florida?
Some of the best lands for hog hunting in Florida are Wildlife Management Areas. While you do not need any kind of hog license, you do need a hunting license and a Management Area Permit, which are cheap but not free.
Check with gun clubs and hunting clubs in your area to get on-the-ground tips about good hunting locations: many private landowners will let hunters prowl for free.
Hog Hunting Heaven
Hog hunting is a very popular activity for many people across Florida. People love to joke about hunting for bacon and take pride in helping cull an invasive species while getting to enjoy delicious game.
Some people even train hunting dogs to help them capture wild boars. So whether you want to hunt hogs for the thrill of the hunt or you’re looking to make a genuinely gourmet ham sandwich, you’ll find the hog hunting in Florida to be some of the best on earth.