Wild hog population exploding at Tennessee recreation area

GOLDEN POND, Ky. (WVLT) -- The wild hog population at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area is exploding, and officials are working to get it under control.

The recreation area, in Tennessee and Kentucky, first saw wild hogs appear in 2005, CBS affiliate WTVF reported. Christopher Joyner, a Public Affairs Officer for the area, believes that someone intentionally released the animals for the purpose of hunting.

In 2015, at the urging of Kentucky and Tennessee officials, hunting the wild hogs was no longer allowed. In 2016, Joyner said, 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.”

WTVF reported that Eurasian Boars can grow to weigh up to 200 pounds, and now, the animals are starting to disrupt the environment.

Joyner said it's unknown how many hogs are in the area. In the past year, he said they trapped 70, but trapping hasn't been effective, and officials are considering a more aggressive way to get rid of them.

“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.”

There have been no occurances of hogs bothering or hurting humans, and Joyner said they hope to keep it that way.

WTVF reported that the U.S. Forest Service is investigating who may have released the hogs. If caught, they could be charged with multiple felonies, must pay tens of thousands of dollars to cover damages and could lose hunting privileges in 48 states.