Sporting swine recently joined the list of invasive species in Michigan.
While they were originally set to join the list on July 8, state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Rodney Stokes pushed back the date to Saturday, Oct. 8 at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder in order to give the state Senate time to act on bills passed in early July by the state House of Representatives that would impose tighter regulations on swine breeding and hunting facilities.
Despite the increased time, no bills were passed before the designated date.
“Absent a regulatory program in Michigan law for sporting swine facilities, the invasive species order is being put into effect,” Stokes said.
The DNR had 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 pheasants and wild turkeys.
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.
According to Stokes, 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.
While sporting swine facilities can schedule hunts to reduce the sporting swine population on their properties before April 1, any facilities still in possession of sporting swine on or after that date may face violations and fines. o