GOLDEN POND, Ky. (WTVF) — The population of wild hogs at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area is exploding, and officials are working to get the situation under control.
Christopher Joyner, a Public Affairs officer for Land Between the Lakes, said wild hogs were first spotted back in 2005. He believed someone intentionally released the hogs at the site for the purpose of hunting. In 2015, at the urging of Tennessee and Kentucky wildlife resource officers, hunting the animals was no longer allowed. Joyner said in 2016, the number of wild hogs skyrocketed.
“We definitely want the wild hogs at Land Between the Lakes gone,” said Joyner. “We’ve been told by wildlife resource agencies if we get on it now, in the near future, we can eradicate the animals.”
On average, Eurasian Boars can grow to weigh up to 200 pounds. Joyner said the boars are starting to disrupt the wildlife and landscape.
“Our biggest concern is they will come in graveyards,” said Joyner. “We have 270 graveyards and we are worried they will do damage to heritage sites.”
Joyner said it is unknown how many hogs may be in the area. In the past year, they have trapped 70. However, he said the trapping hasn’t been effective, and they are now considering a more aggressive way to eradicate the hogs.
“We have been examining some other avenues,” said Joyner. “One option is aerial gunnery where we would shoot the hogs out of helicopters. However, when you have a population of about 1.7 million guests each year, you can understand safety concerns we would have.”
Joyner said there haven’t been any instances of the hogs bothering or hurting humans, but officials want to keep it that way. He reiterated that hunting the hogs isn't allowed.
Breeding season for the hogs begins in four months, and Joyner said they reproduce rapidly. Each litter can consist of up to 10 piglets.
U.S. Forest Service law enforcement is investigating who may have intentionally released the hogs at Land Between the Lakes. If caught, the individual could be charged with multiple felonies, must pay tens of thousands of dollars to cover damages, and lose hunting privileges in 48 states.