A wild hog can weigh as much as 700 pounds.
The invasive species hurts native habitat by uprooting plants and leaving a fresh bed of sod, said Sarasota County Resources Manager Belinda Perry.
“It looks like they tilled the land,” Perry said.
Habitat occupied by hogs is constantly threatened by invasive plant species, which can proliferate with fertile, tilled land.
Perry doubts there are many 700-pound pigs roaming the region, but with the ability to reproduce a litter of 13 pigs, feral hogs’ numbers grow exponentially, she said.
And the county has ratcheted up containment efforts by hiring as many as three firms to trap and kill wild pigs. The bid solicitation mandates the firms remove a combined 2,300 hogs from three designated territories.
Contractors have removed roughly 1,000 feral hogs since 2008, according to a staff report presented to commissioners in July.
“The real danger to humans is that they transmit diseases,” Perry said.
Sarasota County recently allowed the Southwest Florida Water Management District last month to oversee a feral hog hunt on Deer Creek Prairie Preserve, which is located in South County.
County Natural Resources General Manager Amy Meese in a report to County Administrator Randall Reid said that hunters removed 39 hogs during the hunts.
Trappers will ship the live hogs to hog-holding facilities to await slaughter for food or placement on hunting preserves.
Each group in the field will be allowed to carry one handgun to kill sick or injured hogs, and the solicitation notes dogs could be used if approved by county staff.
Feral-hog removal is an ongoing process, and the county is constantly considering solutions Perry said, such as electric fences.
“The problem with electric fences is that they tend to short-circuit,” Perry said.