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Florida FL/GA Feral Swine Control Pilot Project

Points of Contact

Nathan Fikkert
State Resource Conservationist
USDA-NRCS Florida State Office
2614 NW 43rd Street
Gainesville, FL 32614

Parker Hall, State Director
USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services
2820 East University Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32641

Project Area

The Red Hills region is located between Tallahassee FL and Thomasville GA and represents the largest concentration of undeveloped planation lands in the United States.   This region provides critical water supply for residents of Florida, Georgia and Alabama as it serves as on one of the highest recharge areas for the Floridan Aquifer.

The Red Hills Region pilot project area includes locations in both Georgia and Florida. This important pilot project will allow two programs to work in unison while maintaining a similar objective. Project boundaries were defined using USGS 12 digit hydrologic units. The following criteria was considered when selecting this project area: existing partnership with APHIS, property owner interest, EPD priority watersheds impaired for fecal coliform, cropland acreage, proximity to potential feral swine refuges and feral swine population densities.

The FL pilot project area includes properties located in Jefferson and Leon counties. Peanuts and cotton are the main row crops produced in both counties. Both counties also have large amounts of improved pastures and hay fields used for livestock production. Pecans are a high value cash crop produced within the Red Hills region, and over the last 10 years pecan values and acreage have been on an upward trend. Historical feral swine control efforts on properties have seemingly been ineffective to combat feral swine damage. As a result, some croplands have remained fallow due to feral swine activity and cropland that remains in production has experienced increased damage. A unified feral swine management approach is warranted to reduce associated damage.

This region is an environmental reserve for a multitude of protected species. All total there are 21 federally listed species and 29 state listed species between Florida and Georgia. Feral swine cause damage to many protected species through wallowing, rooting for food, and selective feeding. Some species directly impacted by invasive feral swine within the region may include: Striped Newts, Gopher frogs, Gopher tortoise, Map turtles, Alligator snapping turtles, Eastern Indigo snakes, FL pine snakes, Miccosukee gooseberry, American chaffseed, Florida Torreya, and Chapman Rhododendron.

Florida FL/GA Feral Swine Control Pilot Project Map

Estimated Equipment Needed

NRCS funds may be used for the equipment necessary for the pilot project. Further questions about the equipment needed, the amount, and use of the equipment should be directed to the point of contract for the project. It is expected to that the following equipment will be crucial for the implementation of the project with the pilot area:

  • Traps
    • Up to 30 remote activated traps
    • To be used by APHIS employees or trained landowners
    • Could remain in the control of partner for landowner use after the life of the project
  • Fecal coliform evaluation equipment
  • Other equipment associated with successful program implementation
  • Up to 30 cellular activated cameras for monitoring
  • Up to 100 trail cameras and SD cards
  • Bait storage – grain bins or containers
  • Trailers for hauling traps and UTV

Monitoring/Evaluation Requirements of Partner

Due to the new nature of the pilot program, it will be crucial to collect, monitor, and evaluate data regarding feral swine populations, agricultural damage, and environmental concerns. For this project, partners are expected to:

  • Develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation program
    • May include pre/post feral swine removal surveys, crop damage assessments, documenting acreages put back into production post removal, water quality evaluations of fecal coliform, natural resources protection, etc.
  • Evaluate techniques and strategies utilized to remove feral swine, both by APHIS and landowners that are participating in the project
  • Population data and analysis
  • Feral swine local populations should be measured before, during, and after the project

Anticipated Partnerships within the Project

  • University of Florida or University of Florida A&M – provide a graduate student to conduct feral swine damage assessments to determine the efficacy of the pilot projects
  • Florida Wildlife Commission
    • Wildlife Resources and Law Enforcement Divisions: assist with outreach and education efforts. Enforce the illegal transportation of feral swine
    • Provide educational information to local landowners

Outreach/Education Expectations

Education and outreach will be essential aspects of the project to ensure landowners are educated on the need for removing feral swine, approved techniques, and methods for controlling feral swine populations. Partners are expected to assist with outreach and education activities in the following ways:

  • Assist APHIS with organizing a minimum of 4 workshops per year consisting of trap construction demonstrations, guidance on proper trapping and baiting strategies, feral swine sign and damage recognition, shooting strategies, state specific feral swine laws, non-lethal deterrents and camera trap placement and operation. Provide a centralized location to conduct such workshops

Additional Partner Requirements

  • Coordination between APHIS and property owners
  • Purchase and distribution of NRCS funded resources to property owners and APHIS
  • The partner must have knowledge of the local area and relationships with existing property owners
  • The partner will serve as a liaison between APHIS and property owners and will assist in developing a focal area which will include a minimum 90% landowner participation
  • The focal area will total no more than 50,000 to 100,000 contiguous acres inside the project area
  • The partner will assist with acquiring work initiation documents (WS form 12A) from property owners to allow APHIS to provide direct control activities on identified properties