In the Field: Feral Swine – A Michigan Issue?
When I was in college, I worked for the DNR Wildlife Division as a Student Assistant. This position formulated a lot of my early views on hunting, management, and the purpose of a State Agency. I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the views of various hunting groups over the years I worked for the Division. I also had the opportunity to see what decision making and management issues look like from the inside of DNR. One of the major issues that came to light while working for the Division was feral swine, according to Wildlife Chief Russ Mason, the Asian Carp of the forest and field. While there was a lot of initial activity and response to the issue when DNR initially promoted this issue, and the threats these swine create, the activity has since drastically declined, and public interest seems to have waned. Feral swine are a problem for two main reasons: they can host many parasites and diseases that threaten humans, domestic livestock and wildlife; and they can cause extensive damage to forests, agricultural lands and Michigan’s water resources.
The map on the right shows feral swing sightings and takes over the past couple years. The decline of reporting is cause of concern to state wildlife managers. These invasive pigs being present in our landscape should be cause for concern, yet Michigan residents seem to not realize the dramatic effect they can have on our resources. Below are some examples of why these feral swine are so damaging to Michigan’s agriculture, wildlife, habitat, and even risk to human and livestock health.
- raid ground nesting birds such as turkeys and pheasants
- have been known to predate on fawns (see picture above)
- create mud holes that are ideal for midges (that are a host to EHD) to procreate
- uproot crops and food plots
- dig trenches/holes that are large enough to damage farming equipment
- pollute/contaminate water sources such as streams, lakes, marshes, ponds, etc.
- spread diseases (brucellosis, e.coli, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, hepatitis E, influenza A, and more – all transmissible to humans and livestock
- reproduce rapidly; producing litters 1-2 times a year with litter sizes ranging from 6-14 piglets, and sexual maturity being reached between 6-8 months of age
If you see any indication of feral swine, click here to see what feral swine sign looks like, use the contact information at the bottom of this blog to report your findings.
As concerned Michigan residents… what can we do? The most important things is to REPORT any sightings or sign that you see. But, holding a hunting license, or concealed pistol license provides a tool to take out any/all feral swine you see. As long as you have permission to kill the swine that are on the property you are shooting on, you are legally allowed to terminate those feral swine. See the image below for the excerpt from the 2016 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest.
USDA Wildlife Services: 517-336-1928
Department of Natural Resources: 517-641-4903
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: 1-800-292-3939
If a past or present hunter would be willing to volunteer to hunt and shoot Feral Swine, is there a place to sign up for that purpose?
You don’t have to sign up. Anyone can shoot a feral swine on sight if you are on private property. If you are on public property, you must have a valid license and hunting device for the open game season–that is to say, you can’t necessarily go out to eliminate feral swine in the southern “shotgun zone” with a rifle not allowed in deer season. In either case, this must be reported to USDA Wildlife Services.
You can hunt coyote with centerfire rifle in southern lower MI, except during firearm deer season, so why not Feral swine?!
How many Feral Swine have been killed in Michigan by hunters the last 10 years?