Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Feral swine taking a toll on Michigan’s landscape

Lansing – Feral pigs are running rampant in Washtenaw County –
and other areas across the state.

During the past couple weeks the DNR has received dozens of
reports from residents in Washtenaw County alerting them about pig
problems.

“We’ve had between 20 and 30 reports from Scio and Lodi
townships and as far down as Saline Township,” Kristine Brown, a
lab technician at the state’s wildlife disease lab in Lansing told
Michigan Outdoor News. Brown is the state’s leader in addressing
the feral pig problem that has crept up in recent years.

“There are quite a few pigs running around down there that we
think escaped from a captive pig farm. They’re showing up on the
University of Michigan campus, at a Burger King on I-94. They’re
making a lot of people uncomfortable,” she said.

Some of the most uncomfortable folks are those in the state’s
pork industry, who fear the feral hogs could spread disease to
their livestock.

“Feral swine can carry diseases that could affect the pork
industry,” Brown said. Feral pigs have been known to carry several
diseases that could devastate pig farms, including swine
brucellosis and pseudorabies. “They also carry diseases that could
affect humans,” she said.

There also are environmental concerns. Feral pigs are aggressive
and eat “anything they can get in their mouth.” They will
out-compete native wildlife for natural foods.

“They are also destructive to wildlife,” Brown said. “They will
eat eggs and have been known to eat fawns.”

They also devastate crops by rooting through planted fields and
upturning the crops.

“We’ve had severe crop damage in 16 counties,” she said.

Because of these concerns, state officials are asking licensed
hunters to help with the eradication effort by shooting feral pigs.
Feral pigs are fair game for any licensed hunter in 61 of the
state’s 83 counties.

“Under the livestock-at-large law, the state’s livestock are
protected, even though they are reverting to wild pigs,” Brown
said. “In those 61 counties, we have talked to the prosecutors
about the disease transmission risk to farm pigs and the
environmental risks, and the prosecutors have agreed not to
prosecute hunters for shooting feral swine,” Brown said.

Only 12 counties in the Lower Peninsula do not allow the killing
of feral pigs by hunters. Those closed counties are Charlevoix,
Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Missaukee,
Muskegon, Barry, VanBuren, Huron, and Macomb. Six of the 15
counties in the Upper Peninsula allow the killing of feral swine.
Those open U.P. counties are Houghton, Baraga, Marquette,
Dickinson, Menominee, and Delta.

“We’re getting more and more information on sows with piglets,”
Brown said. “That means there are breeding populations, and that
worries me.”

There have been close to 200 reports of feral swine running wild
in Michigan in the past six years and more than 150 pigs have been
killed – some by police officers, some by COs, and some by
hunters.

Anyone who kills or sees a feral pig may contact Brown at (517)
336-5030 or brownkr@michigan.gov.

For more information, including maps of where swine have been
spotted and where they have been killed, visit the DNR web site at
www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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