GPS collars to help track wild hogs in Smokies - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

GPS collars to help track wild hogs in Smokies

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Wildlife officials at two East Tennessee national parks expect to glean new insight into wild hogs by using the same satellite technology used to track nuisance bears.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area have been approved to share 20 GPS collars that would give biologists their first real-time look at the pigs’ movements from data updated to a desktop computer every 24 hours. Both parks are plagued by free-roaming feral hogs that cause extensive environmental damage as they tear up the ground and wallow in the mud.

Last summer the Eastern Band of Cherokees gave the Smokies $18,000 to purchase six GPS collars that were tested on hogs on the park’s North Carolina side. The new tracking program has the support of state agricultural officials because in addition to destroying habitat, wild hogs in the Smokies also carry pseudorabies, a viral disease that poses a major threat to the commercial swine industry.

Wild hogs in the Smokies first tested positive for pseudorabies in 2005, and since then the disease has spread alarmingly. Park biologists say the problem likely can be traced to hunters who illegally trap and release semi-domesticated pigs that carry pseudorabies into the park.

Read more from our news partners at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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