Iguanas, pythons and wild pigs: Florida's invasive species fiasco
MELBOURNE, Fla. - Giant lizards, wild boars, coyotes, and pythons are all just part of a regular day on the job for wildlife trapper James Dean. He said these invasive animals have wreaked havoc in the Sunshine State.
"Florida has always been a zoo," Dean added.
Every year, invasive species cause an estimated $1.4 trillion in damage and control costs worldwide.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Florida is home to more non-native animals than any other part of the country. Dean knows this all too well. He said he has had a big increase in phone calls for wild boar sightings this year, and some of them are a 500-pound problem.
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"There are a lot of wild pigs right now, that is all I am really focused on are pigs currently...they were imported back, I believe it was the 1700s by the Spaniards as a food source and then they multiplied into the millions," Dean said.
It’s a big issue that hit home for Dean. He was almost killed by a wild pig in 2019 trying to protect kids at a bus stop.
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"I was cut here, here, and back here. I fell over and hit my head on the trap...I was able to get the pig under control. For unknown reasons God gave me the strength to get that pig back in the trap," Dean said.
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