LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (WFLA) – Wild pigs are nothing new in Lakewood Ranch. People who live in the area are used to seeing them in their neighborhoods and even holding up traffic while crossing busy Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
Kathleen Grant has lived in the area for 15 years and says the pig population is growing as is the damage the animals are leaving behind. For some, the wild pigs have cause thousands of dollars in damages by tearing up landscaping and ripping up grass.
“We pay for the landscaping so we want to minimize the damage and minimize the cost, but again it is not just a cost issue. Of course that is substantial, but it is also becoming a public safety issue,” said Grant. “There are a lot of little dogs and children in this community and as you can see, they’re not fearful and can become quite aggressive,” she continued.
Anne Ross is the executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority and has worked firsthand with several trapping companies to combat the invasive species. She says the issue has proven to be a complicated one.
“There are a number of us working on the issue. It might not be very visible because along Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, you might see the herd of 30 or 40 pigs and feel that nobody is doing anything,” said Ross. “Everybody is trying to do their own part on their own properties and it just a big issue that comes and goes overtime. We just haven’t found the perfect way to take care of it, but the ways that are available, all the solutions that are available are being utilized,” she continued.
8 On Your Side contacted officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Monday asking if they have the authority to help residents dealing with ongoing concerns surrounding the wild pigs.
We received this response:
Wild hogs can create property damage by rooting up vegetation and damaging lawns. Exclusion, hunting and trapping can be effective methods of reducing this damage. Fencing (including electric fencing) can exclude wild hogs from small yards and gardens. Other fencing such as hog panel or chain link fencing between 24 and 32 inches tall is also effective.
The FWC does not provide removal services for wild hogs, but this species is not protected in Florida. On private property with landowner permission, wild hogs may be trapped and hunted year-round during the day and night and no hunting license is required. For more information: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/mammals/land/wild-hog/
For properties open to the greater landscape (e.g., residential areas, golf courses), trapping is an effective method of preventing damage. A list of private nuisance wildlife trappers can be found at https://public.myfwc.com/HGM/NWT/NWTSearch.aspx. In addition to private trappers, the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services provides a fee-based trapping program that services homeowner and community associations to resolve wild hog issues.
Ross says Lakewood Ranch has looked into hunting, but found it is not an option in the residential community.
“We did have the district attorney look at whether we could step it up and bring in hunters to take care of it or let the trappers use weaponry and found utilizing a gun in a residential area like we have here is unlawful,” said Ross. “There might be some ability to use bow and arrows or tranquilizers, but because the pigs tend to be in areas where you might have people walking their dogs and you have a lot of interaction, there is an inherent risk with that so doing the trapping is really the best solution we have found so far,” she continued
8 On Your Side previously contacted Manatee County officials to see what if anything can be done from a county perspective. We were told Manatee County does not have a program in place that could assist residents dealing with property damages from the wild pigs.
County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh lives in Lakewood Ranch and is well-aware of the ongoing concerns and frustrations.
“This is going to be an all out war that is going to have to be done by all. It is not just a county situation that we can handle on our own. We just can’t. We’ve got property rights in the state; we just can’t go onto other people’s property so it is a problem, it is a big problem,” said Commissioner Baugh.
“There can’t be one leader with this situation. It has got to be an all out effort by everyone. The problem is, let’s face it, the hogs really tear up the ground and landscaping, but even more so, it is getting to be that there are so many, we are getting a little bit concerned about public safety” said Baugh.
Commissioner Baugh says county staff will be giving an update during a Tuesday morning county commission workshop.
“I’ve been working on this with the county since November,” said Commissioner Baugh. “John Osborne will be giving us an update. He has been trying everything to come up with some answers that maybe the county can do to try and help,” she continued.
The commission work session agenda can be found here.