By JEFFERSON MEMORIAL FOREST STAFF
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A new exotic invader is threatening the natural balance of Jefferson Memorial Forest. Early in the summer of 2010, neighboring landowners, hikers, and staff began reporting feral hogs within the Forest and traveling between the Forest and surrounding properties. The first reports began early in the summer of 2010. Jefferson Forest is now working with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to address this serious issue.
Jason Nally, Private Lands Biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources gives us a synopsis of the problem: “Feral hogs, also known as wild boars, originate from either escaped domestic pigs or transplanted European boars,” Nally said. “The problems caused by these hybridized hogs are well known in many areas of the United States, but have only recently started to cause problems in Kentucky. ”
Feral pigs can cause extensive damage to forestland, crops and pastures. They will eat just about anything and can readily out-compete native wildlife for food. In addition to eliminating food sources for deer, turkey and small game populations (acorns), feral pigs can decimate frog and snake populations, will devour the nests of ground nesting bird species, and have been documented to eat deer fawns.
Feral pigs carry a host of diseases, such as swine brucellosis and pseudo rabies that can affect pets, livestock, wildlife and humans. Sows can produce two litters a year with up to 13 piglets in a litter, a characteristic that is economically beneficial when pigs are raised as livestock. However, this reproductive productivity can cause local feral pig populations to quadruple in a year’s time if they are not actively managed. Pigs are omnivores and the rich woodlands of the Jefferson Memorial Forest offer a smorgasbord for these free roaming nuisances.”
Feral hogs have long been a problem in other parks and forests throughout the region. Bernheim Forest has been working to manage the problem for several years now, and the Smokey Mountains National Park has been working to manage the problem for a very long time. Indications from KDFWR are that it is unlikely that we will be able to completely eliminate every wild hog in Jefferson Forest.
Currently we are trying to manage the problem through a program of trapping along two of the locations where they were seen last year. If you see feral hogs in the area, please report them to Jason Nally at (270) 805-1080.