Swine Saga Continues this Fall
The deadline for declaring feral pigs an invasive species has passed.
In December of 2010, former DNR Director Rebecca Humphries signed an order listing wild pigs as an invasive species effective July 8, 2011. If the Michigan legislature was not able to approve legislation that would effectively regulate the facilities that own these types of pigs – and the order is not talking about common, agriculture pigs but rather focuses on wild boars of the type found in shooting facilities – then the sporting swine would be declared a prohibited invasive species and eradication efforts would begin.
As July 8 approached, however, it became clear that legislation would not be passed in time to meet the deadline. Thus new DNR Director Rodney Stokes pushed the effective date of the order back to Oct. 8, 2011 at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder in an effort to give the state legislature more time to pass a regulatory package.
Stokes said the DNR will continue steps to prepare for the invasive species order should it take effect which includes facility notification and visits with active enforcement of the order starting April 1, 2012, if the Legislature does not act before then.
The House of Representatives passed legislation on June 30 right before summer break (House Bills 4503-4507 and 4699), and this extension will give the state Senate the opportunity to act on the bills when they return from break after Labor Day. The House bills (as passed in the House) would:
- Cap the total number of facilities allowed in Michigan at 65
- Create a regulatory framework with fencing, reporting, disease testing, and animal identification requirements
- Require facility owners to have at least a $1 million liability insurance policy (or ability to pay) for damage caused by escaped sporting swine,
- Charge fees for registration and inspection and set minimum fines and penalties for violations
- Put the DNR in charge of oversight of this program
The Senate version of the bills (SB 307-310 and 208 as passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee) have somewhat weaker regulations, leave the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in charge or the program, and do not include a cap on facilities or require insurance.
Most troublesome, is the fact that neither the House nor Senate package includes fees that would fully fund the regulation and enforcement program, putting the general taxpayer on the hook to cover the remainder of the costs. While the House package has come a long way since it was introduced, funding has been a sticking point for MUCC and we continue to oppose the bills in their current forms.
MUCC supports listing sporting swine as a prohibited invasive species to help stop the source of feral swine and the disease risk they pose to humans, domestic pigs and wildlife as well as their potential for extensive agricultural and ecosystem damage. You may have recently heard about the feral swine confirmed positive for pseudorabies in Midland. MUCC also supported legislation in 2010 that allowing anyone with a hunting license or concealed pistol license (on public lands) or a private property owner to shoot feral swine.
State law requires the DNR to list non-native species as prohibited if (1) the organism is not native to the state, (2) the organism has the potential to harm human health or to servery harm agricultural, natural, or silvicultural resources, and (3) effective management controls are not available. Michigan wildlife specialists and scientists across the globe have verified that feral swine overwhelmingly satisfy that criteria.