Government Preparing To Shoot Feral Hogs From Helicopters at Kentucky Park

The feral pig problem at Kentucky's Land Between the Lakes park has become so bad that USDA Wildlife and Forestry staffers have implemented a plan to start shooting them from helicopters, according reporting by The Leaf Chronicle.

A joint effort by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Forest Service has been planned, starting in November, to eradicate the non-native feral hog population from the park.

In addition to placing bait traps and euthanizing captured animals, the crew has arranged to take to the sky on clear days armed with 12-gauge semi-automatic shotguns to shoot the animals from the sky.

The dead pigs' bodies will be left where they are killed to decompose naturally.

Approximately 70 feral pigs were captured and euthanized at the park last year. In 2019, 124 have been caught and killed to date, with two months left in the year.

Feral hogs pose an immediate threat to both North American ecosystems and planned agriculture, and have been known to dig up cemeteries. According to CNBC, they have been spotted in 48 states and have caused over $2 billion in damage each year.

Tina Tilley, area supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service, supports the plan. "Feral hogs now pose a serious threat to the heritage sites across Land Between the Lakes, and we can't risk losing the sites that connect so many to their past,"

A feral pig in the wild
A feral pig in the wild yhelfman / Getty Images

Private hunting of feral pigs in the Land Between the Lakes is illegal, with administrators warning that it could cause the population to scatter and endanger more parts of the park.

In June, the Department of Agriculture announced that they were launching a $75 million initiative to create the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program in ten selected states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

That money will fund feral pig removal, restoration of agricultural land damaged by the animals, as well as partnerships with organizations to prevent further incursions by the hungry hogs.

In the release, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service administrator Kevin Shea referred to feral pigs as "one of the most destructive and formidable invasive species in the United States."

Feral pigs were introduced to the Americas in the 1500s when European settlers brought the first swine as domesticated animals. Wild boars were brought in the 1900s, and today's feral pig population is composed of cross-breeds between the two populations.

Feral pigs also breed extremely quickly, birthing two litters of five to six piglets a year. Scientists estimate that one would need to exterminate between 60 and 80 percent of the population yearly in order to completely wipe them out, according to Popular Science.