Hunters lined up at Starkey Wilderness Preserve off SR 52 in New Port Richey for the three day Feral Hog Hunt at the park in Pasco County.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District issued 55 permits for the hunt period, which takes place each night during the three day event, which ends on January 10.
Wild hogs are not native to Florida. It’s believed they were brought in 1539 by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto as a food source.
They are omnivorous — eating plants and animals — and feed by rooting with their broad snouts, destroying vegetation and leaving fields full of craters. They live in many types of habitats but prefer oak-cabbage palm hammocks, freshwater marshes and sloughs and pine flatwoods.
Wild hogs usually grow up to 5 or 6 feet long and reach weights of more than 150 pounds. Some weigh as much as 300 pounds. They usually travel in small family groups or alone. They breed twice a year with up to eight pigs in a litter.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District considers feral hogs an invasive exotic species. They prey on native wildlife, compete with native species for food and transmit diseases to other wildlife, livestock and humans.