Harvesting Wild Hogs in the Big South Fork NRRA and Obed WSR

Wartburg/Oneida, TN (2018-01-24) Wild hogs have been blamed for destroying native resources in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Obed Wild and Scenic River.  Hog hunting season on these federal lands last through the end of February.  Hunters must have an approved weapon, valid hunting license and a permit to hunt them.

Wild hogs can be harvested in both the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Obed Wild and Scenic River during an extended season that lasts from the end of the deer season until the end of February.  Hunters must use a weapon that is approved by that state for harvesting big game and a permit is required.  Permits may be purchased at one of the visitor centers or online at http://www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/hog-hunting.htm or http://www.nps.gov/obed/planyourvisit/permits.htm.   A valid hunting license is required to purchase the hog permit.  The permit also allows hunters to hunt at the Obed Wild and Scenic River.  There is no limit on the number of hogs that can be harvested, and they are not required to be checked in.  Hunters may be called after hunting season to check on success if they agree to a phone survey when a license is purchased.

The wild hog is an exotic invasive species that is significantly impacting the native resources at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.  Little is known about the Big South Fork wild hog population, but the damage pigs are causing is threatening park resources including federally listed species such as the White Fringeless Orchid, Cumberland Sandwort, and Cumberland Rosemary.  Wild pigs do a great deal of damage to farmlands and residential areas.  They destroy wildlife habitat as well as crops on private lands.  Wild hogs can also contribute to the spread of disease, including pseudorabies and swine brucellosis.  It is illegal to release hogs in the states of Tennessee and Kentucky, and dogs cannot be used to hunt hogs in the parks.

To better understand the wild pig population at Big South Fork, the park has partnered with the University of Tennessee to conduct a wild pig research project.  Wild hogs were captured and radio-tagged with GPS transmitters over the last two summers.  The transmitters provide multiple pig locations daily, and the study will continue through 2018.  The data from this project will help to determine movement patterns of wild hogs including their responses to removal/hunting efforts and will also provide baseline data for the development of a wild hog management strategy for the Big South Fork.  Data thus far shows that the current collared hogs are staying in home ranges that are approximately 2-5 miles long and they tend to stay together.  Movement patterns change when the hard mast starts falling.

Collared wild hogs were trapped and chemically immobilized during the research animal handling procedure.  Disease testing has been done on a small sample of wild pigs from the central part of Big South Fork, with preliminary results indicating brucellosis and pseudorabies are not present.  However, this is from only a small sample size, and hunters are encouraged to always use personal protective equipment, such as latex or rubber gloves and eye protection when field dressing wild animals.  Hunters are encouraged to not harvest wild hogs with transmitter collars or eat wild hogs with transmitter collars.  Collared hogs were injected with drugs during capture to promote safe handling.  Anyone that does acquire a transmitter collar is encouraged to contact Jason Fisher, Wildlife Biologist at the Big South Fork NRRA, or contact the information found on the collar so that the transmitter can be placed on another wild hog to continue the research.

Hunters are encouraged to send in pictures of wild pigs harvested in the park.  Tag photos with #HuntBSF or #HuntOBED to share your hunting experiences on social media.

For further information, contact the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at (423) 286-7275 or the Obed Wild and Scenic River Visitor Center at (423) 346-6294.