Swine Saga Continues this Fall

The deadline for declaring feral pigs an invasive species has passed.

Sort of.

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.

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  • G512GA

    There is too much evidence to believe that not taking action regarding the proliferation of feral swine could possibly be anything except a bad thing. Against the potential threats to agriculture and domestic animals is a government unready and/or unwilling to act. Michigan’s legislature needs to get it’s act together.

    • Owlswing

      …and WHERE are ALL these feral swine at ? According to the DNR and all of ALL KNOWING, they are EVERYWHERE…..hmmmmmmm

    • yooper62

      How many Hogs have you seen in Michigan? I know many MANY people in the areas that supposedly are over run with hogs… yet they have never even seen evidence of them. I want someone to show me the proof of all of these hogs that are escaping the hunting facilities… The only photos that I have seen of hogs that have been shot, were not hogs from any preserve that I know of.

  • MSU Duckman

    We are ready to take up arms against Asian carp coming into the Great Lakes, realizing the damage they can cause to our fish, wildlife and water bodies, but somehow feral swine are different? Our legislators need to take firm action agains feral swine because their impact will be no less than Asian Carp!

    • Owlswing

      We’re ready to take up arms against Asain Carp….really….how so….I guess if you call trhowing money at ‘em taking up arms, or the powers to be just yakin’ about it, I guess that’s taking up arms…..

    • Owlswing

      Yep….we’ll just throw money at ‘em….that’ll keep ‘em out of the Great Lakes… and feral swine are such a threat, yet the regs to take one in the field are assinine….gotta have a license….can’t shoot “pig caliber” firearms at night….blah, blah, blah, and to find one, ya gotta get on the BigFoot Express.

  • John Geurink

    There is no proof that feral swine come from sporting swine operations. Pigs escape from typical farm operations. Will we ban those too? If the sporting swine operations are forced to close, so should all pig farms.

    • Owlswing

      Lived in Hanover/Concord area for a few years….had a pig farm down the road….single strand fence….always had his pigs roaming around….stopped in one time to tell him about it, he coulda cared less….the last one I encountered one in my back yard, turned out yummy…..

    • Owlswing

      Lived downstate a few years back, had a pig farm (not a sporting operation) down the road from me….single strand fence….always had pigs roaming around. Told the guy about it and he coulda cared less….last one that roamed my garden was darned tasty….

  • Rtfitz317

    What is it about doing the right thing that has people fumbling all over themselves running in the opposite direction. Funding should come from fees and not another burden on us as sportsman. I teach my family ands friends conservation, can’t your legislator get off their duff and finally act decisively for the people they are supposed to represent. Thank you for the great article.

    Sincerely,

    R Fitzpatrick
    Fellow Sportsman and Conservationist

    • Aj910

      It’s not that our state legislature is sitting around on their duff doing nothing. They have more important things to deal with like budgets, billion dollar deficits, Detroit, the biggest city in the state, is turning into a third world city with every passing day, and you want them to drop everything and worry about pigs? I understand your concern, but keep things in perspective.

  • Anonymous

    I am 64 years old and a hunter. I bagged my first squirrel when I was ten, and my first deer at fourteen with the same single shot Remington 22. None of this is important except to say that I consider myself a life long Sportsman and Conservationist. A sportsman that can not see or understand the “sport” in hunting any animal who’s movement is restricted. I see no “sport” in these hunting “facilities.”

    • yooper62

      Nim503… I can appreciate that thought, but it is a personal choice and preference. Other would say that they could hunt in Texas on a 5000 acre fenced facility but wouldn’t hunt on a 500 facility in Michigan… It is strictly a personal choice.

      I will say that tomorrow morning I am leaving for a hunt in Southern Michigan. I am not hunting but sponsoring a boy that is terminally ill and our SCI chapter is paying for him to hunt deer in the short time that he has left. Our chapter has done this for many children and others that are physically challenged and terminally ill.

      If you could see the changes it makes in these people… you wouldn’t question a place for this type of a hunt. To get to carry a young buy that can’t walk to his first (and only) buck of his shortened life… I would fight to preserve any kind of hunting that would help in this way. Words can not express what that feeling is!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RDSSPSZHP6I2H7ERORHJZ2CWY david w

    One hunter alone in the Roscommon County area of Michigan shot several wild pigs in the Maple Valley sector where there is a game hunting reserve. Four years ago my wife and I saw one crossing M76 just north of St.Helen,Mi. We could not believe our eyes until we read where they got loss from this reserve. For those that are non believers stick around they multiply very quickly—ASK TEXAS.

  • Aj910

    Lets call a spade a spade, the state doesn’t have the hog problem the DNR is claiming. The DNR is a government agency and they’re no different then any other government agency out there. I have money, they want it, and they will do what ever it takes to get it. Hunting facilities are their direct competition, and every year Michigan hunters spend millions of dollars at them and the DNR hates that. It’s a brilliant business plan if you think about it, use your muscle to have your competitors shut down. Then drum up all kinds of fear to get federal grants to “Research The Invasion”. I hunt in a county the DNR claims is overrun with pigs, and I have yet to see a scrap of evidence of a pig in the area.

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