Wild pigs have been in Florida since the 16th century. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto had a herd of pigs with him when his ships landed in Florida in 1539. Although de Soto never found the gold that he was searching for, pigs soon established a breeding population. Today, wild pigs are found in every one of Florida’s 67 counties. Over the centuries, wild pigs have found a place in Florida’s ecosystem, and ‘native’ species have come to depend on them (wild pigs make up as much as 40% of the diet of the endangered Florida panther).
Wild pigs are intelligent, adaptable animals. Despite their sharp tusks and large size (they can weigh more than 300 pounds), wild pigs are wary of humans. Contrary to popular belief, wild pigs do not carry diseases that are easily transmissible to humans.
Hunting pigs with dogs
ARFF is opposed to all bloodsports—the recreational killing and maiming of animals—but the hunting of wild pigs is particularly barbaric.
Wild pigs are sometimes shot by “still” hunters waiting in a tree stand, but more common is the use of dogs to find, chase and attack pigs. Upon finding a pig, a dog pack will chase the animal until he or she is exhausted. Hunters follow on foot or in swamp buggies.
“Breaking away from the dogs, the hog charged me. Piercing the hog with my spear, the spearhead broke off in the hog, the hog retreated to the bush. As I approached it again, it charged in a last attempt for its life. Once again I pierced the hog and held it off as it forced against the spear. As she weakened, I got a couple more stabs to finish her off.”
– description of a 2011 hunt, from the website of a Florida hunting guide
Before the dogs are restrained, the pig can suffer horrible injuries. Sometimes, a wounded pig will escape, only to later die a lingering death.
Hunters crudely kill pigs with knives, as a firearm would endanger their dogs. Other unethical and inhumane weapons used to kill pigs include spears and swords!
Hunters will often castrate a young male pig, without anesthesia, before releasing him. The hunters believe that the animal will grow fatter and have better-tasting flesh when captured in the future.
Dogs can also be badly injured. On dog-hunting websites, hunters discuss how to dress wounds, deal with torn ears, lung punctures and what to do “if a dog gets gutted.”
The State of Florida has one of America’s strongest laws against animal fighting. The statute (828.122) makes it a felony to stage fights between dogs or other animals. Sadly, the law specifically exempts the use of dogs in hunting wild pigs.
In 1994, Florida’s Attorney General issued an opinion stating that hog-dog rodeos, bloody events in which dogs are set upon wild pigs confined in a pen, violate Florida’s animal fighting law.
To summarize Florida’s illogical law, it is illegal to cause a dog to fight another dog, or to fight a pig in an enclosure, but it is legal to use dogs to chase and viciously attack a pig in the wild.
You Can Help
Please contact your state senator and state representative and ask them to introduce legislation to remove the exemption in Florida’s animal fighting law that allows hunters to use dogs to attack wild pigs. (Click here to find your elected officials.) Please contact ARFF if your senator or representative responds positively.
Contact Florida’s state wildlife agency and demand a ban on the use of inhumane weapons, such as spears, swords and hatchets, used to kill wild pigs. In the hands of the average hunter, these weapons do not kill animals with speed and certainty. Click here to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
If you see an article in your local newspaper about wild pigs, please respond with a letter to the editor. Animals need you to speak up in their defense! (If your letter is published, please send ARFF a copy.)
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida
1431 N Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Promoting respect and compassion for animals in Florida has been the mission of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida since 1989.
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.