Is the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wrong For Mass-Killing Pigs?

Many reports are suggesting that a new law in Michigan, effective April 1, 2012, makes many of Michigan’s pig farmers felons for owning or raising pigs now classified in the books as “feral swine” and could face arrest or jail if they are not destroyed.

An October 10, 2011 post on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources states: “A Department of Natural Resources director’s order listing sporting swine as an invasive species took effect over the weekend on Oct. 8, making it illegal to possess the animals in Michigan. “Absent a regulatory program in Michigan law for sporting swine facilities, the invasive species order is being put into effect,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. Stokes said active enforcement of the invasive species order will not start prior to April 1, 2012, with compliance visits to swine shooting and breeding facilities planned after that date. Sporting swine facilities can use the next six months to schedule hunts to reduce the population of sporting swine on their properties. Facilities still in possession of sporting swine on April 1, 2012, may face violations and fines.

Many reporting sources are calling enforcement of the new law, with caravans of armed response teams deployed to investigate and shakedown suspect raisers with such stock and even interrogating customers of suspected raisers to locate farm property, as far too drastic and traumatic.

Although the ruling, which specifically bans species Sus scrofa or “wild boar” and may be a genuinely well-thought ruling designed to eliminate the threat of a feral animal that is susceptible to human-contagious diseases and has been known to destroy natural resources and man-made cropland, as described by a 3-part academic documentary “A Pickup Load of Pigs” produced by Mississippi State University (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) the technique of enforcement in Michigan seems to me to be poorly executed. The real strategy would be education and instruction of the dangers for raising this variety of stock and introduction to viable or otherwise hardy replacement species and access to legitimate stock sources so that a controlled swap could be developed instead of blunt, indiscriminate annihilation of an entire farm’s stock.

A problem with the style of enforcement going on is the broadness of the description for the wild boar species, only needing to find one single aspect of the multi-faceted description, rather than finding all aspects in suspected species — similar to suggesting that to identify a human would be to note the presence of opposable thumbs, although monkeys like chimps and orangutan species possess them.

Another problem, though, is the farmers who resist education and instead operate purely on pride of their stock instead of listening to the genuine arguments presented, such as it would appear to me in this gentleman’s video. What this man says, in a nonsensical way is that essentially, “look at my innocent children, you will be hurting them” kind of reasoning, instead of simply changing the species of pig he raises.

The transition seems fairly simple to me (although IANA pig farmer) but pride, rather than thought-out reasoning other than “blah blah my family” seems to rule this gent’s refusal to adapt to the new ruling. This is akin to my travels in Kenya and meeting people who, despite education that the stagnant water they draw refreshment from is contaminated with filth, refuse to relocate because their grandfather and their grandfather’s grandfather drank from that nasty water hole.

This gentleman also voices suspicion of a connection I’ve found in many of the comments for feral pig videos, that conspiracy with major pork producer associations in Michigan are what influenced this decision, although I’ve been able to find little (only citing more speculation) that establishes a genuine connection — although the Michigan DNR themselves cite cooperation with a national program by the USDA to trap and hunt this species on a much broader scale than just a Michigan pork conspiracy.

There’s another pretty good write-up here with a balanced approach. Please add comments with other articles you’ve found, or chime in..

4 thoughts on “Is the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wrong For Mass-Killing Pigs?

  1. Well written post. I agree that there are problems on both sides of this issue although in this case I’m going to side with the farmers as the DNR’s criteria for determining if a specific hog is legal is so broad that any pig in Michigan could be determinined to be illegal nd the pigs owner to be a felon. Would we rid our state of feral hogs? Absolutely. Would we, in the process make it possible that any pig farmer in Michigan be determined to be a felon by using visual inspection criteria that virtually any pig could match in one way or another? No.

    What do we propose? Simply this:
    – Keep the DNR off farms and fenced in farm land
    – Repeal or amend the Invasive Species Order to EXCLUDE all hogs under the husbandry of humans
    – Maintain our right as citizens to eat the type of food we want
    – Protect small farmer’s rights to make a living
    – Protect and preserve the unique and precious genetics of Heritage Breed hogs

    • We’re not talking about “a pig” here. We’re talking about a species, not native to a region, invading where it does not belong and becoming a huge problem. “Invasive” does not describe single organisms, but a large non-native population of a certain kind of them.

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