Sporting swine — at least for now — have been spared from becoming a member of Michigan’s list of invasive species, which would make it illegal for anyone to possess or transport these animals.
Back in December, when former state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Rebecca Humphries signed an order making feral swine an invasive species in Michigan, the DNR received a request from incoming legislative leaders to have more time to give the state Legislature the opportunity to regulate sporting swine hunting and breeding facilities.
In order to accommodate this request, the order was set to take effect Friday, July 8.
However, that date has come and gone, and while the state House of Representatives passed legislation earlier this month that would impose tighter regulations on swine breeding and hunting facilities, the state Senate has not yet taken action on the bills.
Yet, the conservation order didn’t take effect due to a request from Gov. Rick Snyder to extend the conservation order’s deadline in order to give the Senate time to act on the bills. Therefore, DNR Director Rodney Stokes has drafted a new order giving the Legislature until Oct. 8 before sporting swine is listed as an invasive species in the state of Michigan.
The DNR has been working to add sporting swine to the invasive species list because feral swine pose a serious threat to the state in numerous ways. Statistical analysis of the DNR’s own evaluations of sightings or killings of invasive feral swine indicate that there’s a significant correlation to known swine shooting/hunting operations, suggesting the shooting facilities are the source of free-ranging feral swine in the state instead of swine that have escaped from domestic livestock facilities.
Feral swine can pose problems ecologically, agriculturally, and medically.
They are “particularly disruptive” to native wildlife because they compete for important food such as acorns and berries. They also impact deer and ground-nesting game birds like pheasant and wild turkey.
Agricultural damage in the U.S. by feral swine through direct consumption, rooting, and trampling of crops and the environment is estimated at $1.5 billion annually.
The invasive swine are also noted carriers of a number of diseases to which humans are susceptible, such as brucellosis, leptospirosis, salmonnellosis, toxoplasmosis, and E. coli illnesses, in addition to several significant livestock diseases.
Although the state Legislature now has a chance to get all their ducks in a row, the DNR will still work on implementing the invasive species order with facility notification and visits starting before the end of the month.
If state lawmakers still fail to pass legislation by Oct. 8, according to Stokes, active enforcement of the invasive species order would start April 1, 2012.