A collection of federal agencies completed the first round of 2020 feral hog eradication operations at Land Between the Lakes on Jan. 31. Officials have now added the use of helicopters in their fight against these invasive animals.

Partnering with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Forest Service organized an operation to shoot feral hogs from a helicopter beginning Jan. 27. The initial round of aerial operations was limited to portions of Land Between the Lakes south of the state line and west of The Trace.

The project area was closed to the public during flight operations. Weather disrupted and reduced operations to three partial days of work ending on Friday. Wildlife specialists euthanized 197 feral hogs during this first round of operations.

Federal officials will continue to target feral hogs using bait traps and other mechanisms to end feral hog habitat damage at Land Between the Lakes.

Feral hogs are non-native and threaten visitor safety, cultural sites and native plant and wildlife species, authorities say.

APHIS began assisting the Forest Service with trapping in 2014, but not at a rate that surpasses reproduction. In 2018, 70 feral hogs were euthanized by APHIS, and in 2019, that number grew to 124.

Feral hogs can have two litters each year, averaging five to 10 piglets. Those offspring can give birth to a new generation in less than a year.