LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Quietly crossing the 12th fairway at night, wild pigs are rooting out yards along Cypress Links at Lakewood Ranch Country Club.
Neighbors Carolyn Cohn and Joy Pond woke up Friday morning to disheveled Saint Augustine grass alongside their homes as though a commercial tiller had whirred between the houses on Ashland Glen.
Pond and her husband, John, said they actually spotted a group of boar on their front lawn during the night. They pounded on the front windows to scare the dozen or so animals away.
"They really don't want anything to do with people," said hog trapper Juan Trevino, a native of Myakka City who was called in by Cohn's husband, Marty, a supervisor for Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 5, serving Country Club.
"The rooting that we got going on in three days time is definitely more than two pigs. It's not the babies that are doing it, it's the bigger ones. In this situation, they're definitely going after grubs and that's what they're plowing up," said Trevino.
The golf course has been treated for parasites and bugs. The boars' sense of smell is amazing and know those grubs aren't out there, Trevino said.
Grubs and other insects burrow under rich grasses in yards, unlike the chemical-infused golf course turf.
The hogs also dug out under a small oak seeking acorns, but avoided a neighbor's lawn with less lush landscaping.
"They haven't got a single front yard," Carolyn Cohn said. "We all have lights out front. I wonder if we ought to put them in our back yard since they seem to be going there?"
Wild pigs avoid bright
lights, the hog trapper said. "It's hard to get them to go into a trap in an open area."
Suggestions he offered the neighbors were to leave on outdoor lights and to set up speakers so that the animals would hear the sounds of human voices.
Investigating hoof prints across the 12th fairway and into the deep rough, Trevino set up a camouflaged metal trap baited with corn, but no pigs were captured by Friday morning. A small trail led from the underbrush out to a pond where he pointed out evidence of the pigs getting water and rooting.
During the daytime, the hog trapper said the wild pigs are hiding out in the environmentally protected area alongside the fairway. Marked with the red out-of-bounds stake topped with a green mark, golfers "are not allowed to go into them, not even on foot," Carolyn Cohn said. "If your ball is outside, you get free relief and your ball is safe. By law, you can't go behind the line."
Trevino advises golfers and residents to stay clear, even though the pigs want to avoid humans.
"If her babies are threatened, she will turn," said Trevino, who has been threatened three times. "A hog is real hard to read, but one of the things they'll do is put their head down and they'll chomp their jaw. That's how they sharpen their tusks. They start foaming and that's aggression," said Trevino, whose grandfather lost parts of three of his fingers to a wild pig.
Although he didn't trap any wild pigs at the Country Club so far, he said they have been investigating the trap and he expects to have success soon.
"After I take them from here they'll go to a holding facility and they'll go to the first buyer," he said. "Most of them will go to a hunting preserve or to a family that wants to have a barbecue. In reality, you can't really get more organic than that."
Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.