The Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Preserve in Pasco county consists of 8 thousand acres of woods and meadows. The state land is home to several species of wildlife. But land management supervisor Will VanGelder says one species is not welcome here.
"Feral hogs are an exotic and invasive species that cause considerable amount of damage to our natural system both uplands and wetlands."
Hunters that have purchased special permits will have access to the park so that they can remove as many hogs as possible.
VanGelder says, "last year we conducted 8 hunts district wide. We harvested nearly 280 hogs."
But the hogs continue to grow in number.
A female hog can be sexually reproductive at 6 months old. They can have six to eight piglets per litter with up to two litters per year.
VanGelder says, "without a large top predator to control those numbers you can see the numbers of feral hogs quickly gets out of control."
And that top predator is humans. They use dogs to track to the hogs. The hunters then move in and take down the animal.
VanGelder says they can't eliminate all of the hogs but they can at least manage the problem.
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