January 15, 2010

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Flatwoods Park and Washburn Equestrian Area, which are part of the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve, will be closed 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25, and sunset to 2 a.m. Jan. 26-28 for nighttime hog hunts.

Only permitted hunters will be allowed on the property from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25 for scouting, and from sunset to 2 a.m. Jan. 26-28 for hunting.

All of the permits for these hunts have been sold.

Flatwoods Park is located at 14302 Morris Bridge Road southwest of Zephyrhills in Hillsborough County. The entrance to the Washburn Equestrian Area is northeast of the Flatwoods Park entrance, across Morris Bridge Road.

All other areas of the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve will remain at their normal operating hours.

The hunt is one of a series of hog hunts being held on District lands in an effort to control the damage being caused to the natural habitats.

The District only allows hogs to be controlled through hunts when the damage they cause is at unacceptable levels, and damage is occurring more frequently and with increasing severity.

Wild hogs live throughout Florida in various habitats, but prefer moist forests and swamps, as well as pine flatwoods. They are omnivorous and feed by rooting with their broad snouts, which can cause extensive damage to the natural habitats. In fact, they can leave an area looking like a plowed field.

Wild hogs are not native to Florida and are believed to have been introduced by explorer Hernando DeSoto as early as 1539. They can weigh more than 150 pounds and travel in herds of several females and their offspring.

For more information, please call the Land Resources Department at the District’s Brooksville Headquarters at 1-800-423-1476 or (352) 796-7211, exts. 4461 or 4457.

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