LANSING — Sen. Rick Jones and members of the Coalition to Protect Michigan Agriculture and Natural Resources met at the state Capitol Tuesday to announce legislation that would help fight the devastating statewide spread of feral swine.
“Wild hogs are aggressive, destructive creatures and it’s nearly impossible to contain them behind fences,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The best way to ensure that feral swine don’t endanger humans and other wildlife, negatively impact the environment and destroy vital crops is to designate them as an invasive species.”
Jones will be sponsoring legislation that affirms the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) order that bans all recreational shooting of swine behind fences.
Out of Michigan’s 83 counties, 72 counties have reported sightings, shootings or trappings of feral swine.
More than 35 states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have declared wild hogs an invasive species. Wisconsin, Indiana and Pennsylvania have banned the importation, release and captive hunting of wild hogs.
“Allowing wild hogs to be brought into Michigan for hunting is like bringing in Asian carp for fishing. They are an invasive species and should be banned,” Jones said.
“Attempting to regulate feral swine would be extremely expensive and ineffectual in preventing them from continually escaping and thriving in the wild. The best thing we can do is to establish an effective eradication program to eliminate hogs already in the wild.”
According to the DNR, appropriate regulation of the sport shooting industry would cost more than $750,000 annually.
In addition to destroying important crops, feral swine also spread diseases that can devastate Michigan’s livestock, dairy and poultry industries. Scientific research estimates Michigan has more than 2,000 feral swine, descended from escaped Russian boars and razorbacks imported into Michigan by hunt clubs. The USDA estimates that feral swine cause more than $1.5 billion in damages every year nationwide to farms, property, vehicles and natural wildlife resources.
State and national experts on feral swine have warned that the invasive species are among the fastest-breeding and most destructive creatures, with no natural predators.