Sunday, February 4, 2018

Wild Pig

All wild pigs in Florida are considered to be of the same species, whether they are feral free-ranging pigs from domesticated stock, Eurasian wild boar or hybrids of the two. There are no true wild pigs indigenous to the U.S.  
Florida may have received the first domesticated pigs in the U.S. (that eventually went feral) in 1539 when Fernando de Soto brought pigs for a settlement he established in Lee County, Florida (in the area of Fort Myers). Or they may have arrived even earlier, at the same site in 1521, by Ponce de Leon, when he visited briefly. The first Eurasian wild boar were released in the U.S. in New Hampshire in 1886, then New York in 1900, North Carolina/Tennessee in 1912, Texas in 1919 and Washington state in 1981 to provide a huntable big game species. Florida's estimated wild pig population of 500,000 is the second highest in the U.S., behind only Texas. 

Wild pigs are hoofed, with long snouts ending in a disk, and long canine teeth that appear as tusks. They resemble domestic pigs, but are leaner. Feral pigs typically have solid black, white or reddish brown hair in solid or mottled patterns on the body. Eurasian wild boar are typically brown at the base and light-tipped over most of the body. Hybrids are a combination of both. Appearance is deceiving and is not a reliable method of making a determination. 

Mama's teeth are visible as she eats.
I saw my first wild pig at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida when I came upon a group of about 5 people watching a black animal aggressively mashing through some stocks in the marsh. My initial thought was that it was a small black bear. A minute or two later I saw her little piglets which she was completely ignoring. Mama is obviously habituated to people. 

When I came back hours later, late in the afternoon, I saw the pigs still surrounded by people, not far from the place they'd been earlier. Mama was aggressively ripping up the ground with her snout. I was amazed at how much damage this one pig was doing in a short period of time. I'm surprised they have not eliminated the pigs from this area for that reason. 

I, along with many other people, got very close to mama and the babies. Maybe it is for that reason that they leave-them-be. A chance to encounter them close up and also to see the damage that they can inflict. 

1 comment:

  1. Mama's not so attractive, but those babies, like almost all babies, are pretty cute.