Who  brought all these pigs here?

Hernando de Soto

Hernando DeSoto.jpg


It's believed the hogs were first brought to Florida, and possibly the United States, in 1539, when Hernando de Soto brought them to a settlement he established at Charlotte Harbor in Lee County Florida. However, it's also possible that hogs were brought to the same site in 1521 by Ponce de Leon. During the next four centuries, explorers and settlers brought pigs with them throughout Florida. Many of these animals were traded to Native Americans, who expanded the population and distribution throughout the state.


Europeans and Native Americans often raised their hogs in semi-wild conditions where they were allowed to roam freely and only rounded up when needed. Many of these animals, and those escaping from captivity, established feral populations throughout Florida. These feral populations have been further supplemented through deliberate releases by private individuals and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to improve hunting opportunities (although the state no longer does this).

Eurasian wild boar were first released in the United States in New Hampshire in 1886. Boar were then released in New York (1900), North Carolina/Tennessee (1912), Texas (1919), Washington State (1981), and possibly other locations to provide a new, huntable big game species, and to increase the sporting and trophy value of feral hogs through hybridization. Although most were released in enclosed areas, many escaped and readily hybridized with local feral hogs. A few Eurasian wild boar and many hybrids naturally dispersed to areas around release sites, including neighboring states. Hybrids have been trapped and moved to many parts of Florida by private individuals. In addition, the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission trapped and released feral hogs and hybrids in many areas to control hog-related problems in some areas and improve hunting opportunities in others. It's believed that there are no more free-ranging, pure Eurasian wild boar in Florida, only feral hogs and hybrids.

Wild hogs are now found in every county in Florida and in at least 35 states and Canadian provinces, including most of the Southeast. Florida's wild hog population is second only to Texas's; the state is estimated to have more than 500,000 wild hogs in a relatively stable population (there are from 1 to 2 million wild hogs in the southeastern United States). Some of the highest hog population densities in Florida can be found north and west of Lake Okeechobee in areas with large forested tracts, dense understory vegetation, and limited public access. Hog numbers tend to be lower in areas with intensive agriculture and urbanization, and little water.