Why Does MUCC Care About Wild Pigs?March 30th, 2012
Feral swine can reproduce quickly and as “nomadic rototillers” can tear up crops and native landscapes; impact wildlife directly by feeding upon ground nesting birds, fawns, and other small animals; and spread diseases like pseudorabies, brucellosis, and Bovine Tb. While we may “only” have 1,000-3,000 feral swine here in Michigan now, we have seen from other states what this population can balloon to if nothing is done now. In 2008, our members passed policy resolutions at our Annual Convention demanding aggressive action to eliminate and prevent the establishment of feral swine in Michigan.
MUCC embarked on a journey to implement this challenge, supporting bills in 2008 and 2010 to allow hunters and landowners to shoot feral swine on sight. Yes, it took 2 years for this legislation to get through, and we thought this was the easy part!?
[For more detail on these bills and the rest mentioned, visit our Timeline of The Swine Saga]
Regulation or outright elimination of the facilities harboring and producing the concerning breeds of pigs that were getting onto the landscape became a whole other challenge. The 2008-2009 legislative session saw bills introduced that were aggressive in their desire to eliminate swine from confined shooting facilities; MUCC supported them but the bills were killed in committee. Another set of bills introduced in 2010 were much weaker, putting limited restrictions on shooting facilities to continue to do what they do. We feared these regulations would not adequately “turn off the faucet” of feral swine, thus we worked hard to improve them but no consensus was reached and this package also died.
In the meantime, the DNR saw how long this legislative process was taking, how badly Michigan needed to do something, and worked within their existing authority to propose the Invasive Species Order. MUCC indicated that, while we would work to enact quality regulations to address our concerns about the establishment of feral swine, this order was a good safety measure if that did not happen. The DNR director agreed and signed it in December 2010.
The order’s effective date was set at July 8, 2011, but was subsequently pushed back to October 8, 2011 with an official enforcement date of April 1, 2012. There was wide support for this order from the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan, Michigan Agri-Business Association, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, and producers of pork, milk, corn, soybeans, and potatoes; not to mention hunting, wildlife, and conservation interests such as MUCC, Ducks Unlimited, Quality Deer Management Association, Pheasants Forever, Ruffed Grouse Society, Michigan Gun Owners, National Wildlife Federation, Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association and Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. (Try to fit all that on a letterhead!)
Legislation attempting again to regulate the sporting swine industry was introduced a year ago, had tons of input and debate, and even passed the full House last summer. MUCC remained concerned that, even with the amendments that got the DNR and MDARD on board, the regulations and especially the fees that would pay for enforcement of the program were not adequate to give MUCC comfort. None of the other aforementioned groups bought in either.
And here we stand. It has been a long and epic journey, and one that is probably not done. But MUCC has worked throughout to keep our members informed, has worked in good faith with our agriculture and conservation partners, and stayed true to our policy.
Click here to learn more: