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Feral Swine Law Oversteps In Michigan

July 9, 2013

I think it was last year that I was writing about Michigan’s efforts to curb the spread of feral swine by placing an outright ban on their possession.  While the spotlight of this case was on a private hunting ranch, the way this law was worded posed a threat that went far beyond the contentious issue of high fence hunting, and took aim at small farmers in the Wolverine State.  Mine was one of many voices calling for reason and careful consideration of any such legislation… and mine was one of the many voices ignored when the law was passed.

Feral swine descriptionThe issue is primarily a matter of defining the prohibited animals.  The “Invasive Species Order” (ISO) includes an extremely vague description of feral swine.  As it turns out, several “heritage” breeds display the physical characteristics that the Michigan DNR uses to identify prohibited animals.  And, as predicted before this law went through, the results are that small farmers are being threatened with criminal charges and fines for failing to surrender or eradicate their stock. 

Some of the small farms are fighting back (in some cases because they don’t have a choice… if they lose their hogs, they lose their livelihood and even their homes).  Several, like the family of Mark Baker are taking the offensive and refusing to surrender their stock.  In the face of $700,000 in fines and even possible prison sentences, the Bakers charge that the DNR is overstepping its authority in enforcing the ISO against small farms. 

It promises to remain a contentious issue and worth watching, even if it no longer has much of anything to do with hunting.

Comments

2 Responses to “Feral Swine Law Oversteps In Michigan”

  1. Mike C on July 9th, 2013 18:58

    Who do these goose-stepping DNR yo-yos think that they are? Isn’t it enough that most farmers suffer from over populations of feral swine and that they try to recoup some of their losses by offering guided hunts?

    BTW, a feral hog is by definition an hog that has missed its last meal.

  2. Phillip on July 9th, 2013 19:22

    Heya, Mike.

    It’s pretty crazy. Lots of folks are saying the pork industry folks are behind it, but I’m not sure. More likely, it’s another rushed piece of legislation that didn’t take into consideration the fallout across the state. Now it’s going to run up a huge bill for the MI taxpayers, as the farmers are going to do the right thing and fight this legislation.

    I get the need for strong measures to stop the flow of feral hogs into the State. But I believe, and strongly, that the approach is misdirected. If the State wants to make this right, they’ll rescind the ISO and revisit the whole issue. Rather than punishing legitimate business interests (small farms, hunting preserves), the law can focus on violations and on enforcing accountability on preserves or other potential sources of escaped, invasive species.

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