Sen. Jones bill declares feral swine an invasive species

LANSING — Following news of a feral hog in Michigan testing positive for pseudorabies, state Sen. Rick Jones introduced legislation Wednesday to help combat the devastating statewide spread of feral swine.

Senate Bill 588 would affirm the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ order that bans all recreational shooting of swine behind fences. The proposal completely bans feral hogs, meaning it would prohibit anyone from owning one or importing them from another state.

“Bringing in feral swine for hunting is like someone bringing Asian carp so they can go fishing. It’s insane! We must protect Michigan, our natural resources and our agricultural industry from the real and serious dangers these animals pose,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture recently confirmed that a wild sow trapped near Midland in June was positive for pseudorabies. In 2000, pseudorabies, a viral disease, was successfully eradicated from Michigan’s commercial pork population.

“Michigan’s pork producers applaud Senator Jones for introducing legislation that would codify the DNR order declaring wild hogs an invasive species,” said Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association. “Wild hogs pose a tremendous threat to not only the pork industry, but all of Michigan agriculture as well as the state’s environment and natural resources.”
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.

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.

According to state and national experts on feral swine, the invasive species are among the fastest-breeding and most destructive creatures, with no natural predators.