Things are heating up surrounding the Invasive Species Order (ISO) initiated in Michigan to address the exploding feral pig population.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has initiated some elimination protocols that have divided opinions in the state. Specifically, controversial reports such as ones from NaturalNews indicated that the Michigan DNR “conducted two armed raids on pig farmers…one in Kalkaska County at Fife Lake and another in Cheboygan County…with the intent of shooting all the farmers' pigs under a bizarre new ‘Invasive Species Order’ that has suddenly declared traditional livestock to be an invasive species.”
For clarification, Michigan’s Invasive Species Act was approved in December 2010. The ISO related to feral swine when into effect Oct. 8, 2011. The April 1 implementation date was to allow “those in possession of prohibited swine every opportunity to come into compliance with the law,” Michigan DNR contends.
“This move was an effort to join other states in the battle against feral swine, as well as to align with the National Invasive Species Laboratory's stance on feral swine,” according to the Michigan DNR. “Hunting and breeding facilities in possession of Sus scrofa after April 1, 2012, will face legal action by the state.” (More information on the order listing feral swine as an invasive species is available here.)
It is the ISO and the action it presents that has reignited the hot-blooded debate over feral swine. In the 1980s individuals running hunting preserves brought feral swine into the state. Some of the hard-to-contain animals escaped and today, feral swine had been spotted in 72 of Michigan's 83 counties. Experts estimate between 2,000 and 7,000 feral hogs are running loose in Michigan.
“Some of the hunting facilities even regret bringing them in,” Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association told Pork Network. “We have to shut off the faucet and get serious about dealing with what’s out there.” (More on MPPA's position on feral swine is available here.)
But the opposition, which includes the very vocal Ted Nugent, whose son runs a hunting preserve, vehemently disagrees and even charges that the ISO is driven by the government and “Big Ag” to eliminate “small farms” and heritage breeds.
However, according to Michigan DNR, heritage breeds are not tied to the ISO, unless they have been crossed with feral hogs. The ISO specifically addresses Sus scrofa: “live species, including a hybrid or genetic variation of the species, an egg or offspring of the species or of a hybrid or genetically engineered variant of. . . . Wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old world swine, razorback, eurasian wild boar, Russian wild boar (Sus scrofa Linnaeus). This subsection does not and is not intended to affect sus domestica involved in domestic hog production.”