Sorting out the sporting swine issue
Published 10:25 pm Monday, November 15, 2010
Earlier this year, I helped sponsor legislation that took the first steps to address the feral swine problem in Michigan by allowing Michigan hunters, police officers and animal control officers to shoot these pigs on sight if found on private or public land.
The swine, which are often descendants of non-native wild boar, can not only cause crop damage, but also destroy native habitats and pose a risk to humans.
Shooting a 500-pound boar running wild through your crops is one problem; the next problem, however, gets a little stickier. Currently, we are tackling a larger issue — how these animals get into the wild in the first place, and whether or not they should be considered an invasive species and be illegal to own in Michigan.
Many of us can agree that these swine do not belong in the wild of Michigan, and can endanger other livestock and personal property. The swine, however, often come into the wild after digging their way out of swine hunting facilities.
As a legislator, it is my responsibility to keep these ranchers in mind, along with their jobs and the economy, before making hasty decisions with long-lasting consequences.
If the animals are ruled an invasive species by the department of natural resources, sporting swine ranch owners would be forced to kill off their animals. If this were to happen, many may go out of business during their prime season, lose their investments, and be unable to recoup those costs to repopulate even if given the opportunity to later.
There are compromises on the table which seem more thoughtful, and would create a regulatory system for these facilities that include tougher fencing standards, fees to operate the ranches, animal identification and a system of liabilities and penalties for those hunting facilities where swine escape and cause damage to the environment.
And although compromise is always good, to truly solve the feral swine problem, we need to be mindful of the costs of regulating this industry and careful that we are identifying the correct culprits.
Now that we’ve taken the first steps, I am considering all options in order to address this problem in a way that makes the bills and policies amenable to all parties by early next year.
I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues. Please feel free to contact me by calling (888) 373-0078 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.