Article Courtesy of Daytona
By Matt Bruce
Published August 16, 2018
PALM COAST -- Wild hogs have dug up most of the sod in Rachel Huzior's backyard,
knocked down several lawn lights and ripped holes in her screened-in pool house.
They come in the night, voracious eating machines that can cause massive damage
to expensive landscaping.
They are wild hogs, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates they cause
about $1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year.
Residents of a Flagler County neighborhood are the latest to fall prey to their
Feral pigs have ravaged several yards in the Hidden Lakes community in Flagler
County over the past several weeks, ripping up manicured lawns in a relentless
search for food. It's a problem that has some residents in the resort-style
development that abuts Graham Swamp, a 3,000-acre preserve that serves as a
natural habitat for the animals, asking for help.
"Everybody's flipping out," said Rachel Huzior. "Everybody's going crazy.
They're saying someone needs to be accountable for this."
Hogs, most likely rooting for grubs, have dug up most of the sod in Huzior's
backyard, knocked down several lawn lights and ripped holes in her screened-in
pool enclosure. She estimates it will cost at least $1,500 to repair the
Huzior and her neighbors have plenty of company. Over the last year, reports of
wild hog damage have bounced around in Flagler and Volusia counties. Packs of
feral pigs struck the Woodlands area of Palm Coast in late 2017 and their
devastation is hardly limited to Flagler. Edgewater officials in June hired a
trapper to capture and remove hogs last month after a pack of them were sighted
in that city.
"It's a sense of helplessness," an exasperated Alberto Jones said in late
November when hogs were plowing through his Palm Coast yard on a regular basis.
It's a problem nearly as old as Florida, dating back to the 16th Century when
Spanish explorers brought domestic pigs to the New World as food provisions.
Today wild hogs occupy all 67 Florida counties, and the Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission estimates their population has grown to more than
500,000 in the state. In the U.S., only Texas has more.
Even state agencies appear short on answers when it comes to reducing such a
huge hog population. The conservation commission's website concedes it's
"usually futile" trying to keep wild pigs off private property, but suggested
installing fencing as a way to mitigate the invasion.
"They're just too driven, like a lot of wildlife," FWC spokesman Greg Workman
said. "Whenever they have their minds set on getting somewhere that has a good
food source, they'll find a way to get to it. They're resourceful and determined
to get that meal."
Residents in Hidden Lakes say hogs began targeting their yards weeks ago. In
fact, the animals dug craters into the lawn in front of the communal pool and
park area late last month.
Paytas Homes, the exclusive homebuilder in Hidden Lakes, hired trappers to set
up cages throughout the neighborhood and they had captured at least 17 hogs in
late July, residents said. Trapped hogs legally cannot be released onto public
Arnie Roma said six feral pigs were nabbed in his backyard, which has been
attacked almost nightly. He spent a day resodding deep crevices in his front
It's a fix Roma says is required by the homeowners association that governs his
stretch of the neighborhood, one that's going to cost him about $1,500. He plans
to install a temporary fence to keep the hogs at bay, but expressed frustration
at being forced to restore the aesthetics of his property before property
managers have addressed the problem.
"If they want us to fix the front, I've got no problem with that. But what
happens if they (pigs) come again and dig up?" he wondered aloud. "I'm just
supposed to keep throwing $1,500 away? I'm not an idiot.
"They want their cake and they want to eat it too, and they want it both ways
besides that," he added. "You can't have it both ways."
Eliminate food source
Representatives from Paytas Homes could not be reached for comment July 25.
Hidden Lakes property managers attribute the most recent outbreak to two
hurricanes striking within 11 months and nor'easters throughout the year that
have raised the water table in the Graham Swamp preserve.
Earlier this year, there were claims of extensive damage in the Grand Haven
gated community, and marauding hogs also have been blamed for damage in
Edgewater and Port Orange in Volusia County. Residents in the Woodlands
neighborhood on the northern end of Graham Swamp complained that construction
along Colbert Lane was displacing hogs and forcing them into their neighborhood.
Buddy Smith, a chief development officer for Tuscan Gardens, which is building a
senior-living facility near the Woodlands, worked with those residents last year
to help them get a handle on the ongoing issue. He said the hogs eventually
moved on to fresher ground on their own terms.
The most effective solution, he suggests, is to identify the food source that is
attracting the animals and remove it.
"They're coming in there for one thing and that's to eat," he said. "If they're
in my yard, it's because I've got something in my soil that they like, and it's
probably grubs ... So you've got to eliminate whatever it is that they're