Invasive, exotic animals can severely impact natural systems by out-competing native plants and animals, altering hydrologic flow patterns, changing fire patterns and introducing foreign pathogens and parasites. Invasive, exotic animals found on many of our Lee County Conservation Lands include: the greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris), the Cuban treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), the brown anole (Anolis sagrei), and the wild or feral hog (Sus scrofa).
Feral hogs are known to eat small animals and can compete for food with deer, turkey, bear, squirrel, foxes and sandhill cranes. Additionally, feral hogs directly impact vegetation through feeding, and indirectly through rooting and digging, changing succession patterns, soil properties, and water infiltration rates. In short, these exotic invasive animals are a concern to land managers because their high reproductive capability, generalist feeding habits, destructive foraging behavior, and competition with native wildlife species, can significantly impact natural ecosystems.
Due to the lack of personnel and the logistics involved with proper hog control methods, Lee County has elected to contract with licensed trappers and hog-hunting outfitters to control hogs on Lee County conservation lands. Traditional trapping methods can remove numerous hogs of all age classes, can be used in large rural areas as well as small urban areas, involves limited staff time and can be conducted year-round.
While contracted trapping does make an impact on Lee County's conservation lands, the high reproductive rate of feral hogs is a formidable challenge. In November 2015, Lee County approved the use of hog hunting at select preserves. Hunting allows for an additional control method for this invasive species, as well as an added recreational opportunity on some of our preserves.