February 7th, 2007 by admin
February 18 marks the Chinese New Year, and 2007 will be the “The Year of the Boar.” By coincidence, this weekend three Florida newspapers wrote about wild pigs.
According to an article in Sunday’s Sarasota Herald Tribune, wild pigs have turned up at gated communities and at a new golf course in Manatee County. Wild pigs use their snouts to dig for acorns, roots, insect larvae and other foods. Unfortunately for new homeowners, pigs can make a mess of new sod as they search for food. Although most people understand why the pigs have become a problem (one local resident conceded, “We have seen a tremendous amount of habitat loss and we are seeing the results. The animals that live there have to go somewhere”), the response is unfortunately always the same– call a trapper and kill the animals.
An article in the Port St. Lucie News repeated a half-truth we’ve heard from trappers before. A local trapper has set up a trap to catch pigs that damaged the lawn in front of a commercial building in town. According to the article, “The cage, stocked with corn, should trap the pigs humanely so they can be moved to a ranch, said the trapper.” If you’ve ever seen a terrified pig try to escape from a cage trap, you’d probably disagree that it was humane. And because it is against the law to release pigs back into the wild, the “ranch” where the pigs will be moved to is most likely a private hunting preserve.
Also on Sunday, the sports pages of the Bradenton Herald featured a story about a hunt for wild hogs on a ranch in east Manatee County. The story followed five dogs as they chased several wild pigs to exhaustion. Once the landowner “[pushed] the dogs off the incensed black sow,” the poor animals were tied by the legs and tossed into a truck. At the end of the day, three more pigs would be loaded into a trailer to face an uncertain future.
Florida classifies wild pigs as “domestic livestock,” which means they can be killed anytime on private property, and using almost any weapon. Wild pigs have been in Florida for over 400 years; it’s time to start considering them as wildlife and provide them with the limited protections that wildlife enjoy. ARFF is also working to remove the exemption in Florida’s animal fighting law that allows hunters to use dogs to attack wild pigs. Visit ARFF’s web page about wild pigs to learn more.