You may have noticed that Fish Hawk Trails has had more than its fair share of wild hogs causing destruction to both the property of our homeowners as well as to our common areas. Our neighborhood deer, though beautiful and endearing, have also caused landscaping damage to FHT residents with some being impacted by both sets of animals.
Our role is to manage, maintain, and repair common areas. We have contracted with a trapper who will start the week of August 5th. Unfortunately, this will be only a short term fix as we do not possess the powers to control nature. Our goal is simply to try and minimize the destruction as best we can.
While we, the HOA, are bound by certain rules as to how we contract with vendors, you as a private landowner have the right to contract with any trapper you desire and assume the risks and liability associated with such a hire. Written permission from the landowner (or lessee) is required. This permission must be in each hunter’s possession and must be presented for inspection upon request of any FWC wildlife officer or other law enforcement officer.
Please keep in mind that with a trapper now secured, the fix will certainly not be immediate This is a conservation area with an abundance of wildlife. While a nuisance and perhaps frustrating, it’s an unreasonable expectation to assume this will be immediately remedied. The previously-contracted trapper averaged 8-10 captures per month – equal to about one hog family. The Board is cognizant of the situation and is reviewing several long-term wildlife management plans.
The large concentration of wild hogs is not a problem that is unique to Fish Hawk Trails. In fact, it occurs in all 67 Florida counties as well as in many other states. These are intelligent and very adaptable animals that occupy a wide variety of habitats but prefer freshwater marshes, sloughs, and pine flatwoods. The average swine can weigh 200+ lbs, stand about 3 ft at the shoulder, and reach lengths of 5-6 ft. Like other wildlife in the community, they can be assertive when threatened.
While hunters may use an array of tools (rifle, shotgun, crossbow, bow, pistol) use of these weapons is not permitted within Fish Hawk Trails. Wild hogs may be trapped using live traps (e.g., box traps, cage traps, corral traps), and they may not be released on public lands.
A few residents have voiced their concern with respect to the time it takes to engage a contractor. Unlike individual homeowners, the Board, who has the fiduciary responsibility to protect the financial interest of the community, is bound to contract with those vendors who carry the proper licenses, permits, and insurances required. Vendor contracts are a large responsibility of the HOA.
While Board members cycle off, the vendor contracts remain, leaving new Board members with limited options for poor performing vendors. In the past, we have found vendors with lapsed insurance though it was active at the time of hire. We’ve also found that some of our vendors have had dubious and colorful backgrounds. As part of our due diligence, Leland Management requires all vendors to be vetted and monitored for current insurance, criminal records, etc.
For a vendor contract to be valid and enforceable, it must have the “essential elements of contract” in place. The essential elements are defined by state law and address matters such as work specifications and service agreement. These two elements alone often cause back-and-forth negotiations and time delays.
While the process may seem long and does not sit well with those who are seeking immediate resolution, rest assured that we ARE doing our level best to protect the community and minimize the risk.
To solve the hog problem will require more than the Board’s efforts alone. Again, as a private landowner, you have the freedom to exercise your right to hire a trapper. Please note that those trappers can only be set on your property should you decide to exercise this option. And, also keep in mind that you will be assuming all associated risks and liabilities…