Friday, February 15, 2019

Wildlife officials consider shooting feral swine from air in Land Between the Lakes recreation area in Ky. and Tenn.

Feral hog (USDA photo via Paducah Sun)
State wildlife officials say they've seen a sharp increase in feral swine in western Kentucky and Tennessee since 2016, especially in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. That's cause for concern, they say, since "wild hogs are known to carry at least 30 diseases and 40 parasites that are communicable to humans, pets and wildlife. The swine destroy crops and ecosystems, displace native species and wreak havoc on cultural sites like graveyards, of which there are 270 in Land Between the Lakes," The Paducah Sun reports. Wildlife officials attribute the increase to people deliberately releasing the hogs into the wild in order to hunt them.

LBL staff have been trapping the hogs, but in November state wildlife resource agencies told them to adopt more aggressive measures. They're considering a method called aerial gunning, where professionals shoot the swine from helicopters, the Sun reports.

Allowing ground hunts has also been considered, but officials say it's not a good idea. Terri Brunjes, a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources wildlife biologist who specializes in hogs, told the Sun, "Intensive hunting efforts only remove 10 to 30 percent of the population annually." Also, she said, pigs are so smart that firing a gun into a group of hogs teaches the survivors to avoid humans and become nocturnal. That makes them harder to hunt, she said.

"Land Between the Lakes hasn't yet made a decision about its eradication efforts or decided on a timeline," the Sun reports. "Closing the recreation area to allow for aerial gunning would be a large undertaking, and could prove disruptive, particularly to out-of-state visitors unfamiliar with local happenings."

No comments: