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Hog Wild! Pigs Run Amok in Florida County

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Wild pigs
Wild pigs graze near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.LUKE FRAZZA / AFP - Getty Images, file

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A Florida community is experiencing a fright that isn't a trick or a treat ahead of Halloween: Wild hogs running amok around residents' homes.

Contrary to reports, the hogs aren't threatening to cancel trick-or-treating, but they are destroying lawns, defecating on sidewalks, and scaring the community more than any ghosts or goblins ever could.

Wildlife trapper James Dean, who has been hired by a homeowners' association in Melbourne, Florida, to catch the animals, has captured 11 in Brevard County since Oct. 20.

"The area that I'm working is wealthy people in a gated community," Dean told NBC News. "[Hogs are] coming out of the woods in between Interstate 95 and the homeowner's association property."

At least 17 residents have had their lawns rooted by the hogs, with some experiencing damage that will cost them up to $1,000 to fix, Dean said. It's not clear how many pigs are running wild in the area, but frightened homeowners told Dean that the largest one they've spotted is about 350 pounds.

Brevard County resident Karyn Cole told Florida Today the hogs had destroyed her neighbors' lawns.

"They've dug up a bit," she said. "And I've seen them on the street at dusk."

Greg Workman, public information coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said the hog problem has ramped up in the past month.

"They tend to form packs. They're social animals," he said. But, he added, "Wild hogs, like most wild animals, they don't want to have nothing to do with humans because they associate humans as a threat and will scurry away." As long as people don't corner or pursue the hogs, the hogs shouldn't pose any danger, he said.

For that reason, the county isn't canceling Halloween festivities. "You always need to be vigilant. That's all we ask, to be vigilant," Workman said.

After catching the hogs, Dean kills them and donates their meat to families in need.

"By law, I can't release them back into the wild," he said.

This isn't the first time hogs have been on the loose in the area. The animals, which come to higher ground after rainfall in search of acorns, worms and other food, invaded Brevard County in 2012, too; Dean captured a pig that weighed more than 400 pounds that year.

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