2007-04-19 / Outdoors

State recommends aggressive action to eliminate feral swine

Michigan's Commissions of Agriculture and Natural Resources have adopted a resolution to take action to prevent a feral swine population from establishing in the state.

At a joint meeting held last week, members cited the nonnative species¿ destructive impact on the environment and threat to animal and public health as key concerns. Feral swine have been reported in 32 Michigan counties, including Roscommon County.

"Our experience with disease in free-ranging animals supports that every precaution should be taken to stop their establishment," said William Moritz, Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division Chief. "The presence of diseased animals would cause economic hardship to both swine producers and the hunting community."

The free-ranging or feral swine populations that exist today are escaped or neglected domestic swine, Eurasian wild boar originating from farms and privately owned breeding and shooting operations.

While the importation and release of feral and cross-bred swine is a felony punishable by a fine not less than $1,000, wildlife and agriculture officials advise that typical penalties are not curbing illegal activity in other states. Currently, there are no provisions in state law for regulatory oversight of the pursuit of swine and at least 40 facilities offer some sort of exotic swine shooting opportunities in Michigan. Further, ownership and ownership responsibility of escaped exotic swine from registered facilities often cannot be established because current law does not require these animals to be tagged with official, unique identification.

"The strong potential exists for feral swine in Michigan to carry and transmit disease," said Dr. Steven Halstead, State Veterinarian. "Aggressive action is needed to protect the state's hard-earned pseudorabies- and brucellosis-free status in domestic swine, as well as to protect the environment and natural resources."

The joint commissions directed the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources to pursue the following recommendations: + Ban all recreational shooting of swine behind fences. + Depopulate swine from all Michigan Privately Owned Cervid (POC) ranches, game ranches, wild game breeding facilities and other enclosed ranches. + Depopulate and seek indemnity for those swine described above not otherwise shot for profit or sent to slaughter by a determined date. + Prohibit husbandry practices that involve raising swine for recreational shooting (such as wild pigs, razorbacks, piney-woods rooters, Russian and Eurasian boars and crosses) for sale or transfer. + Prohibit the sale, importation, or transfer of swine for the purpose of recreational shooting. + Allow year-round shooting of feral swine as nuisance animals. + Increase fines related to the importation and release of feral swine into Michigan from other states and Canada.

+ Use federal funds to trap, test, and remove feral swine from private property.

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