Wildlife agents in Tennessee are beginning to use high definition video streaming to trap and kill wild hogs. The new system dubbed HogWatch was developed by IC Realtime, a southeastern-based mobile video and security company.
Feral swine have been a growing problem in the state over the last 15 years, and are now present in 80 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. In fact, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation describes the wild hog as “Tennessee’s Single Most Destructive Animal.”
The Cumberland Plateau has the biggest problem with hogs, which dig up row crops as they forage for food. But in Middle Tennessee, 300 have been captured just since January.
The process typically requires multiple agents to lay in wait in the woods, usually in the dark, as a heard of hogs takes the bait. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has just completed its first remote catch of 23 hogs in Sumner County. TWRA’s Richard Kirk says the cameras save man-hours.
“We can have one officer, sitting in front of his computer at home, watching the same trap and can – with a mouse click – drop the gate.”
The officers can then go to the trap in the daylight to kill the hogs, which Kirk says is safer than doing the job at night.
The units are solar powered and transmit video over cellular networks. They cost roughly $3,000 a piece. Kirk says they will pay for themselves with just a couple of uses.
Nationally, agriculture officials estimate feral hogs cost more than a 1.5 billion dollars in damages each year.
[box]So, what makes feral swine such a big problem? According to eXtension.org, wild pigs are pests in many ways.
- Consumption of agriculture crops, livestock, and wildlife
- Competition with native wildlife for limited food sources
- Reduction of water quality in streams, ponds, and springs
- Alteration of natural plant communities resulting in infestations of invasive plant species
- Reduction of forest regeneration
- Increased risk of disease threats to humans and livestock
Katie Darby contributed to this post.