For more than a year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has allowed a “shoot-on-sight” provision associated with feral swine. However, as of this month, the DNR’s invasive species designation, which passed last October, will be enforced as a further attempt to control the feral species and protect the domestic swine herd.

In a nutshell it means that feral swine are officially outlawed in the state, making it illegal to keep the animals, even in a private hunting preserve.  

There had been a delay in implementing this last step in an effort to allow game ranches that have stocked feral swine for trophy hunters some time to depopulate their animals. "We think there may be some remaining. We're going to start working with the facilities, the owners, doing voluntary inspections. We're hoping they will get rid of them on their own," Ed Golden, DNR public information officer told the Detroit Free Press.

Those hunting preserves have been cited as the source for the wild pig population explosion as the animals are difficult to contain and some have escaped. In other case, the pigs were abandoned when a hunting operation had shut down, the paper reports.  

As of late last year, DNR reported more than 340 feral swine had been counted roaming in 72 of Michigan’s 83 counties, and 286 had been killed. USDA estimates that there are 4 million feral pigs nationwide, causing millions of dollars of damage to crops and property each year.

Beyond property and environmental destruction and even human and animal safety, the concern associated with wild porcine is that they can spread diseases to domestic animals, particularly domestic swine herds. For example, feral pigs have been known to spread previously eliminated diseases such as pseudorabies to domestic pigs.

Under Michigan law, any licensed hunter can shoot feral swine on sight. Private property owners also may shoot feral swine on their land. USDA also has feral swine traps available. For Michigan residents, complete information about the problem and how to report a sighting, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr and search "feral swine."