• Biologist controls hog population on Cumberland Island

    By: Deanna Bettineschi

    Updated:

    CUMBERLAND ISLAND, Ga. - It's a trip that has become a part of  wildlife biologist Doug Hoffman’s routine.

    He goes to Cumberland Island, where he’s in charge of controlling the hog population.
     
    “In 2000, we reached a peak of 67 percent loss to our sea turtle nests to hogs and coons and so we implemented a really intense predator program,” said Hoffman.
     
    He said hogs would walk along the shore and eat the sea turtle eggs.
     
    "If they randomly come across a nest and eat it, they're smart enough to learn that nest means free food and they'll search for other nests," Hoffman said.


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     So he began hunting and trapping hogs to save the endangered sea turtle nests. He said when he began this journey, there was 500 to 600 hogs roaming the island, now there’s fewer than 200. In the last 10 years, only six nests have been impacted by the hogs, proof that  their program is working.

    But he said it’s important to continue to control the population, even though sea turtle nesting season has come to an end.
     
    “If we stopped control today, within two years here would be 600 hogs out here possibly more,” said Hoffman.
     
    While we were out with Hoffman, we didn't spot any hogs, but did find remnants of where they tore up the ground looking for food, meaning we weren’t far behind.
     
    Wildlife biologists say sea turtles choose this island because there’s 18 miles of undeveloped land, making it the perfect place to nest.
     
    Hoffman says Cumberland Island accounts for about 25 percent of all statewide turtle nesting.


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