Feral hogs causing major problems at Savage Christmas Preserve

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CHRISTMAS, Fla. - Feral hogs are causing major problems in Orange County, and officials are now talking about spending thousands of dollars to get them out of nature preserves on county owned-land.

Within the trails at Savage Christmas Preserve, feral hogs are damaging land the county is trying to restore.

Beth Jackson with Orange County Environmental Protection drove WFTV's Racquel Asa through the property to survey the damage caused by the wild animals.

"They root in the ground with their noses and till up the ground and disturb the grass species," said Jackson.

The environmentally protected land should be flat and plush with plants, but the hogs are pulling up the grass to get to the sand where their food source is, officials said.

In the past, the county spent 20,000 to remove the animals. One year, authorities captured and put down more than 100 wild hogs.

But hogs breed several times a year and their numbers are growing.

The hogs are even damaging wire grass, which is crucial for prescribed burns on the land to maintain the plants, officials said.

"It carries the fire. You want the fire to move across the landscape in a controlled situation, and that particular species is one that helps us," said Jackson.

The county plans to hire a contractor to capture the hogs with cages before the spring.

Officials said it would be unsafe to have hunters come through the preserve since hikers and horse riders use the trails.