Park officials call wild hogs a huge problem in the Smokies

If you love to hike in the Smokies, chances are you’ve seen many wild animals. But, there’s one animal that park officials are calling an unwelcome guest.

Bill Stiver knows how to read the land like most people know how to read a book. On Wednesday, he was following the tracks of wild hogs. Wild hogs can get up to 300 pounds and while Stiver says he doesn’t consider them dangerous to park-goers, he says they are a threat to the park itself. “Most people don’t even know that the wild hogs are here,” says Stiver.

When they eat, Stiver says they take food from the native park animals. Their rooting also tears up rare plant sources. “If 15 or 20 come through here they would just totally wipe this area out,” he says. So, Stiver doesn’t just track these animals, he traps them using a cage. “You put the bait inside, the hogs come in, the trigger hits and traps them,” he says.

Stiver estimates they remove 250 hogs from the park every year. While he says that is a lot, it’s not enough. He hopes to fully eradicate every hog from the park. Until that day, he’ll keep reading the land and searching for the park’s most unwelcome guest.

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