Almost 500 years ago – a couple of Spanish explorers landed in Florida hoping to conquer territory for the King, convert people to the church and make themselves incredibly wealthy.
It didn’t go well.
The two explorers, Juan Ponce de Leon and Lucas Vasquez de Allyon, failed to colonize the Florida peninsula in 1521 and 1526. Also, they died. Pretty violently, actually.
But, this is a story about pigs, right?
Well, hogs, to be more specific.
‘So. Why are you talking about two Spanish guys who’ve been dead for half a millenia?’
Simple – hogs.
When both expeditions failed in the early 15th century – and the explorers met their violent deaths from the natives in Florida – they left behind the pigs they’d brought along with them.
Left to their own devices – the hogs became feral and merged with the other creatures in the flora and fauna of the western hemisphere.
This brings us to present day Niceville – where those hogs have begun to stir up trouble for the city.
The wild, aggressive animals began to invade the city’s spray fields on Eglin Air Force Base. Spray fields are where water that has been treated at the regional wastewater treatment plant gets sprayed onto ground owned by Jackson Guard and Eglin Air Force Base. The city has siged a lease with the federal government to use the land.
The water that comes from the treatment facility on SR-85 then drips back down into the water table. The ground works to remove impurities from the water that might be left behind as it descends below the ground.
Back to the pig problem.
While hogs typically don’t kill humans – the New York Times reports about 100 attacks and four deaths that are attributable to hogs between 1825 and 2012 – they continue to serve as a stinker of a problem for the city. These vandals with tusks tend to destroy stuff of sport. Every year, feral hogs are responsible for roughly $1.5 Billion in property damage in the United States – putting them right up there with the nation’s population of sketchy neighbor kids we collectively don’t trust.
According to City Manager Lannie Corbin, the city is in talks with Jackson Guard, the Air Force outfit responsible for the land the spray fields sit on. “Hogs have done a lot of damage to our spray field,” Corbin said, “We’re working with Jackson Guard, trying to figure out a way to solve the problem.”
Corbin mentioned that he was moving in the direction of asking for a permitted hog hunt near the spray field to take care of the issue for now. Corbin added Jackson Guard had given permission for hog hunts in the past.
“That’ll solve it,” Councilman Sal Nodjomian added.