Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

State to deem hogs as invasive

Lansing – DNRE officials presented an amendment at the July 20
meeting of the Michigan Commission of Agriculture that would ban
the possession of feral swine in the Great Lakes state.

The Invasive Species Order Amendment 1 of 2010 proposes to add
feral swine to the list of prohibited species in the state of
Michigan. The amendment will be presented at the Natural Resources
Commission meeting in August and likely would take effect in the
fall.

Feral swine is the name given to pigs that have escaped or were
released into the wild. They’re also referred to as feral
hogs/swine/boar, Old World swine, razorback, Eurasian wild boar,
and Russian wild boar.

“The DNRE has the exclusive authority to add feral swine to the
list of prohibited species in Michigan, and that’s what we intend
to do,” DNRE Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said. “I have no
doubt that by the end of September, it will be illegal to possess
or harbor feral swine.”

Part 413 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection
Act of 1994 (PA 451) contains a provision that grants the NRC the
authority to add or delete species to the list of prohibited and
restricted species. The authority for administering this section of
the law was transferred from the NRC to the DNRE.

Species are added to the list when any of the following
conditions are met:

n the organism is not native to the state;

n the organism is not naturalized, or if naturalized, not widely
distributed;

n the organism has the potential to harm human health or to
severely harm agricultural or natural resources;

n effective management controls for the organism are
unavailable.

“Feral swine satisfy all of the conditions, so we’re acting
appropriately by prohibiting them,” Mason said.

Approval of the Invasive Species Order Amendment 1 of 2010 will
mean that a person may not knowingly possess or introduce
(knowingly and willfully stock, place, plant, release, or allow the
release) of feral swine anywhere in the state.

The ban would apply to nearly 40 owners of private hunting
ranches who sell hog hunts. Currently, no regulations exist to
govern the practice of owning and raising hogs for hunting
purposes, or for offering hog hunts to consumers.

“We need regulations for the hog-hunting industry in Michigan,”
said Doug Miller, a private hunting ranch owner. “This goes too
far.”

Feral hogs are highly adaptable and opportunistic omnivores that
have been known to carve out a path of destruction wherever they
roam. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials estimate that feral
hogs cause more than $1.5 billion in agricultural crop damage
annually. They also can negatively impact many species, including
pheasants, ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys.

Feral swine also have been known to harbor a host of diseases,
including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, tuberculosis, and
classic swine fever. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, National
Invasive Species Center lists them as an invasive species.

State officials believe thousands of feral pigs currently
inhabit nearly all of Michigan’s 83 counties.

“We estimate the feral swine population to be between 4,000 and
5,000, so it’s a big problem,” said Dr. Nancy Frank, assistant
state veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture.

Miller disagrees.

“There is no scientific evidence that there are thousands of
wild hogs. If you look at the DNRE’s web site, they have a graphic
that shows less than 150 feral hogs have been killed or sighted in
Michigan.”

Just how pigs got into the wild is something else that’s hotly
debated.

“There is a near perfect correlation between the locations of
private hunting ranches and where we find concentrations of feral
pigs,” Mason said.

Sal Palombo, president of the Michigan Animal Farmers
Association, believes most feral hogs escape from farms – and not
from high-fence hunting operations.

“This is just another example of bureaucrats being out of touch
with what’s going on and sounding the alarm over something that
isn’t a real problem,” Palombo said. “It’s also another attempt by
our governor and her appointees to put private ranches out of
business.”

Miller and Palombo both believe that prohibiting feral swine
will spell further doom for Michigan’s economy.

“In 2001, Michigan was the number two state in the country for
deer and elk hunting on private facilities, which brought millions
into our economy,” Miller said. “Now Michigan isn’t even in the top
20.”

Mason believes the move is necessary to prevent the damage to
agriculture, the environment and wildlife that feral swine
cause.

“This is not an attack on the private hunting industry – it’s an
attempt to get rid of a cancer to which there is no other solution
than to eradicate them,” he said.

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