Why are we raising wild pigs?
While just about every other state that is home to feral hogs is looking for ways to get rid of them and spending millions in the effort, Michigan, it seems, is looking for ways to increase its pig population.
The "sport swine industry" is working with the state legislature on regulations that will stop a Department of Natural Resources order that will classify sport swine - the hogs that are hunted on game ranches - as invasive species. The invasive species order goes into effect on July 7. Both the Michigan House of Representatives and State Senate introduced legislation on March 24.
There are fewer than 100 game ranches offering pig hunts in Michigan and the senators and representatives introducing the legislation want to protect the jobs they provide. They maintain that ways can be found to keep pigs from escaping through the fences on game ranches.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Pork Producers Association says its industry, which ships nearly 30,000 hogs each week for processing, is threatened by allowing the sporting swine operations to continue. Escaped pigs have been found to carry pseudorabies, something that could close down the state's pork industry if it is spread to domestic pigs.
The Michigan Milk Producers is against the proposed legislation, too, because feral swine can carry bovine tuberculosis.
The cost of regulating the hog hunt ranches is estimated to be $750,000 per year. That's a lot of money that the state doesn't seem to be able to come up with right now. Sponsors of the bills say that fees will fund the program. That's hard to believe.
Michigan shouldn't bet the future of its pork industry, dairy farms, and natural resources on an animal that has been a proven problem in every state to which it has been imported.