Feral Swine, Shoot First Ask Later

New regulations will allow the shooting of feral swine by anyone with a valid hunting license or concealed weapons permit in an attempt to cull the species growth.

The regulations put into place by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in December now list Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) as an invasive species. Swine populations have been growing rapidly and have been wreaking havoc on farms and in forests in Michigan.

The boars are aggressive and have caused many problems in the state. They compete for food with many native animals like white tail deer, wild turkeys, and pheasant, all of which are also important game species in the state. Swine carry diseases that can be harmful to humans and livestock. They also have a habit of rooting, which according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, can cover entire fields and be up to three feet deep. This behavior is harmful to Michigan rivers and streams by causing erosion and also harms native vegetation.

Over 40 sightings were reported in Michigan in 2010, including locally in Muskegon and Barry counties. The rise in sightings since 2001 seems to show an increase in population and distribution. The population of swine is believed to have started from animals that escaped from breeding and shooting facilities located around the state, although this issue is contended.

The new regulations won’t go into affect until July 2011 giving legislators time to create some regulations for the ownership of the animals. If no decisions are made ownership will be banned in the state.  The new law will allow swine to be shot on sight with a hunting license or a concealed weapons permit.

What is the new law, Public Acts 69-71 of 2010? The new law does not establish a hunting season on feral swine. Public Acts 69-71 of 2010 declare feral swine a nuisance species and allow for the opportunistic take of any free-ranging pig running at large. Under this law, a person with a concealed pistol permit (CPL) or valid hunting license can kill swine running at large on public property; landowners or other authorized persons can kill swine running at large on private property; and local animal control officers and law enforcement can kill swine running at large on either public or private property.

There are many methods for the management of the animals that could be put in place. The same regulations that have been in place for breeders of deer and elk could be made for swine breeders. However, other management alternatives are costly, and according to other states, like Texas, who deal with large numbers of swine, there is no economically effective way to manage the animals due to their quick reproductions and ability to adapt to their environments.

Opponents of the new regulations, including many of the breeders and ranchers, are hesitant to believe that the numbers of swine are as high as the DNR states. Any sightings of Swine or killings should be reported the DNR.

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