Feral Hogs – Nature’s Rototillers

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
March 4, 2014

No, this golf course is not going through a renovation. The tilled earth is from feral hogs in search of grubs.

When it comes to nuisance pests, none can compare to feral hogs. Feral hogs use their snouts like plows to “root” into the soil in search of a meal. Large chunks of turf are completely uprooted during the feeding process and the ground appears as if it has been rototilled. Even a small group of hogs can completely till up considerable areas of the golf course in one night, as was seen recently on a course consulting visit in southwest Florida.

Golf courses in urban settings rarely see feral hogs, as they prefer wooded areas. However, facilities in rural areas can experience occasional hog damage, especially where development surrounding the property pushes hogs closer to the golf course.

Damaged turf will generally survive if it is repaired, rolled and kept moist, but it can take several weeks to look presentable while the area heals. Hogs generally disturb turfgrass areas in search of insect grubs, so it is also recommended to treat the turf for whatever pest might be present. Hogs have a keen sense of smell and removing the food source will greatly reduce the chance of future damage.

 Source:  Todd Lowe, (tlowe@usga.org)

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