Ongoing efforts have been productive in eradicating the feral hogs that were first reported at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in the early 2000s, one LBL official noted recently.
“Estimated numbers from 2021 have shown success in eradicating feral hogs from the landscape,” said Scott Raymond, acting public affairs officer at LBL. “We fully expect to maintain these efforts in 2022.”
Officials said the eradication efforts are continuing through approved capabilities that include trapping and/or aerial operations.
Carlin Lewis, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Forest Service at LBL, said the forest service has been working in partnership with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) since 2014 to eradicate the swine.
“APHIS applies various methods for removing feral swine,” said Lewis, adding that the combined eradication efforts have been successful to date in reducing the numbers of swine at the national recreation area.
Lewis noted that the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are also partners in the eradication efforts of the feral swine.
She said the swine population at LBL has primarily been localized to the Tennessee portion of the national recreation area, with reported sightings trending north to and around the Kentucky state line.
Lewis said the swine threaten the characteristics that make LBL a valuable asset to the area’s culture and tourism economy.
They are extremely destructive to natural and agricultural resources, she said, adding that the swine are able to out-compete native plants and animals for critical resources.
“Their growth and adaptability can reduce the survivability of game species by predation and forage competition,” Lewis noted, explaining that “they consume large amounts of vegetation, and behaviors such as rooting, soil compaction and wallowing all pose problems for native plants and forest growth.”
The swine are a non-native, invasive species, and although officials aren’t sure how they came to be at LBL, they believe those currently at the recreation area may be the result of illegal and intentional transference by humans.
Lewis said it’s difficult to assess an exact number of the swine by counting them because of their prolific reproductive rate, their expanding range and their elusive nature.
“Wildlife biologists use observations of damage done by feral swine as well as visitor and staff sighting reports, to assess population range,” she explained.
Lewis noted that recreational hunting is not the answer to eradicating the feral swine and is prohibited at the national recreation area.
LBL won’t provide an incentive for the further potential release of the swine on its property.
“Hunting pressure causes swine to become nocturnal and actually promotes their spread as they seek areas with less human disturbance,” Lewis noted,” sharing information from the LBL website. “Instead we are pursuing a cooperative strategy to effectively eradicate the feral swine population at Land Between the Lakes.”
Lewis said visitors to LBL who come into contact with the swine should treat them as wild animals. Most swine will flee from humans, she said, noting that yelling or making a noise will usually scare them off.
Swine Avoid HumansThey have excellent senses of smell and hearing and normally avoid human contact.
Again sharing information from the LBL website, Lewis urged visitors to be alert for signs of feral swine such as rooting, damage, tracks and wallows, i.e., areas of mud or shallow water where the animals go to wallow.
She also noted that visitors should know where the swine are and what they are doing.
Keep at a distance from the swine.
Safety tips and other information about the feral swine are available under the “hunting” link on the homepage of the LBL website at landbetweenthelakes.us, and Lewis said the Department of Fish and Wildlife has also provided LBL with information and brochures that the national recreation area shares at its facilities, on bulletin boards and on its website.
Lewis noted that visitors to LBL who do see the swine or notice signs of the animal should fill out a feral swine sighting report form.
The forms are available on the official LBL website at landbetweenthelakes.us, which also includes information about the animals and their impact on LBL and other areas.
Among other things, the website points out that economic losses resulting from damage caused by the swine in the U.S. is estimated to be more than $1.5 billion per year.
The site also notes that the swine now have expanded their presence to include 38 states.
In Kentucky, Lewis said the public can report swine sightings, damage or the criminal release of the animals to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources by calling 1-800-858-1549 or by visiting fw.ky.gov/wildpigs and clicking on “report.”
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or email@example.com.