Wild Hog

Wild hogs are an invasive species in Florida. While they are popular game for hunters, they are a true nuisance for farmers. Credit: Hance Ellington, UF/IFAS


The pristine farmlands of the Florida Panhandle provide an ideal setting for agricultural pursuits. However, farmers in this region face substantial challenges due to destruction by deer and hogs. These wildlife species can cause substantial damage to crops, leading to financial losses and impacting food production. In this article, we will delve into the impact of deer and hog depredation on crop yield in the Florida Panhandle and shed light on the difficulties faced by farmers.

Deer Devastation

Deer populations in the Florida Panhandle can reach high densities, presenting a significant challenge for farmers. These agile animals have a big appetite and can devastate crops through browsing and trampling. Deer feeding can result in crop loss, reduced yields, and financial setbacks for farmers who heavily rely on their harvests for income. Deer can cause extensive damage to crops, affecting both quality and quantity. They graze on crops during crucial growth stages, leading to stunted growth, and even complete crop failure. Additionally, their browsing can result in uneven maturity, making it challenging for farmers to achieve uniform harvests. The economic losses incurred from damaged crops can have a profound impact on farmers’ livelihoods and the overall agricultural economy of the region.

Hogs: A Dual Threat

Wild hogs, also known as feral pigs, pose a unique challenge to farmers in the Florida Panhandle. These highly adaptable and destructive animals forage on a wide range of crops. Their rooting behavior further exacerbates the damage, as they dig up the soil in search of food, disrupting crops and causing soil erosion. The financial toll of hog depredation on farmers is substantial, as they face not only crop losses but also expenses associated with repair and prevention measures.

Pest and Disease Transmission

In addition to direct crop damage, deer and hogs can also contribute to the spread of pests and diseases. Deer, through their feeding and movement patterns, can introduce and spread pests like ticks and mites, which can impact both crops and livestock. Hogs, on the other hand, can carry diseases such as brucellosis and leptospirosis, posing a risk to livestock and humans.

Control Measures

Controlling deer and hog populations is crucial to mitigate their impact on crops. Farmers employ various strategies such as fencing, scare tactics, and depredation hunting to manage wildlife populations. However, finding effective and sustainable solutions can be challenging, due to the adaptability and reproductive capabilities of these animals.

The detrimental impact of deer and hog destruction on crop yield in the Florida Panhandle cannot be overlooked. Farmers in the region wrestle with economic losses, reduced food production, and the need for extensive control measures. By understanding the challenges posed by these wildlife species, implementing effective control strategies, and promoting sustainable coexistence, we can support farmers in safeguarding their livelihoods and securing the agricultural productivity of the Florida Panhandle for generations to come.

For those interested, there will be a deer and hog depredation discussion with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which will be hosted at 2:00 PM Central, on June 14, 2023, at the Jay Community Center  (5259 Booker Ln. Jay, FL 32565).