Over the past year, there’s been a lot of discussion in Michigan about how to control the spread of feral hogs and wild boar. When I last wrote about it, the State was looking at imposing a total ban on the possession of wild or feral hogs, which would mean a ban on hunting preserves and breeding facilities. Not sure what that would mean for domestic pork farmers when their fences go down, but it looks like the situation is on the front burner now. In this December 9 article from the mlive.com web-news, it looks like legislation is passing, and the State has until July 8 to define any exceptions for game ranches.
Outgoing DNRE Director Becky Humphries signed an order today that will outlaw feral pigs by next July if the state Legislature doesn’t enact a fully-funded regulatory program for commercial pig hunt operations.
Under the mandate, wild pigs would be classified as an invasive species and be illegal to possess.
Humphries is leaving lawmakers with a strong message about feral pigs, which have proven a nuisance when on the loose, chasing people and destroying property.
“Becky said she hopes to see bio-security addressed strongly in legislation,” Department of Natural Resources and Environment spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said.
“She is sending a signal. She wants to make sure the pigs don’t get out of the (pig-hunting ranch) facilities. They pose a serious disease threat and do ecological damage.”
The argument from many sources, including some folks at the MI Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), is that the majority of the feral hogs in MI are escapees from the preserves. I can’t authoritatively dispute this, of course, but I do question it. I tried researching a little more thoroughly, but there didn’t seem to be a ton of hard evidence outside of some local situations.
From what I’ve seen in other states, feral hogs come from many sources, including illegal traffic by hunters who want to establish huntable populations in their areas. They also come from escaped domestics which go feral pretty quickly. I think this is a bigger part of the problem in Michigan than we’re hearing from more biased sources who appear to be specifically targeting high fence ranches (an admittedly easy target).
At any rate, it’s pretty much up to the hunting ranch operators and MI sportsmen to decide the future of wild boar hunting in their state. I think there are workable solutions to address escaped animals as well as ways to fund necessary enforcement through preserve licensing and fees. I wish you luck.