A discussion came up this week on our Facebook page regarding concerns about running into feral hogs when hiking. I’ve encountered them a few times myself, generally fleeing the scene. One big boar stood his ground once, however, and he was so big that myself and my friend Gary thought he might be a bear. He wandered off, but … what DO you do? I put the question to the experts at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Stan Kirkland was kind enough to provide an answer from the agency, quoted below.
I’ve worked for the agency for 35 years and I’ve never heard of anyone who has been attacked by a wild hog. Not to say that it can’t happen but I’ve never heard of it. I have heard of injuries to hog hunters but these are usually injuries inflicted when the hunters pull their catch dogs off the hog and attempt to grab them by their back legs to control the animal. Of course, that’s not what you are talking about. Sows with small piglets will sometimes run at people who walk too close to their bedding area but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Usually sows with piglets will away run at the sight of people.
You may know this already but wild hogs on private lands are considered trespass livestock, which means they are property of the landowner. In other words, they are like other livestock. The landowner can allow their take (hunting) 365 days a year, if he or she chooses. And, no Florida hunting license is required of hog hunters on private lands.
On public lands (wildlife management areas), if a hiker or someone walking felt threatened or was attacked by a feral hog, they could certainly defend themselves. If firearm possession was allowed at the time they were on the area, they could certainly use the firearm. However, a FWC officer might look into the circumstances of shooting the hog (at a time when shooting hogs wasn’t legal) and make a determination whether charges were warranted or not. I spoke to one of our captains this morning about this scenario and he agreed that if the shooter’s reported actions match the evidence, no one would be charged.
So, the take-away from this:
- You’re very unlikely to be harassed or chased by a wild hog.
- If you feel threatened, defend yourself.
Hope this helps those of you with hog concerns! To ask more in-depth questions of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission on wildlife safety, call them at 850-488-4676
Learn more about “Living with Wildlife” in Florida on the FWC website