We are writing to update you on the status of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Invasive Species Order on wild hogs. As you may know, the DNR began enforcing Invasive Species Order Amendment No. 1, 2011, on April 1, 2012. Although the Order took effect on October 1, 2011, enforcement was delayed until April 1 in order to give game ranches an opportunity to voluntarily depopulate their operations of prohibited swine prior to department enforcement action beginning. We are pleased to report that many game ranches possessing wild hogs prohibited under the ISO have been inspected and are in compliance with the ISO. However, at least five lawsuits have been filed by game ranches and others seeking to challenge the legitimacy of the ISO in a number of areas. We feel confident that the DNR followed the law and that the ISO will be upheld.
In addition to the legal challenges to the ISO, we have also continued to fend off legislative attacks from hostile legislators who seek to weaken and overturn the ISO. Our position remains unequivocally in support of the ISO. Wild hogs are a clear and present danger to not only the pork industry, but all of Michigan agriculture as well as the state’s wildlife, natural resources, ecosystem, and public health and safety. Given the serious threat wild hogs pose to Michigan’s farmers, rural landowners and family businesses, we must defend and uphold Michigan’s ban on these destructive disease-carrying animals and close the door to all invasive species. Just as we have banned possession of zebra mussels, Asian Carp and other invasive species that threaten our economy, we should ban possession of wild hogs which endanger thousands of jobs and Michigan’s entire agriculture sector. Michigan must not capitulate just to placate a few game ranch operators who refuse to accept the sound science of the DNR’s decision.
Since the DNR began enforcement, opponents of the ISO have stepped up their efforts and rhetoric by embarking on a vicious misinformation campaign alleging that MPPA and “Big Ag” have conspired with the DNR to put small, niche pork producers raising hogs outdoors out of business. We cannot stress enough that this is utter nonsense and absolutely untrue. Neither MPPA nor the DNR have any interest in deterring niche producers from continuing to operate as usual, unless the producer is using the breeds or types of hogs prohibited by the ISO, or crossing those prohibited breeds with domestic breeds to circumvent the ISO. In fact, Section 1 of the ISO states:
“(1) Possession of the following live species, including a hybrid or genetic variant of the species, an egg or offspring of the species or a hybrid or genetically engineered variant is prohibited:
(b)Wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old World swine, razorback, Eurasian wild boar, Russian wild boar (Sus scrofa Linnaeus). This subsection does not and is not intended to affect Sus domestica involved in domestic hog production.”
We strongly believe that the DNR is taking the right action to prevent an insidious invasive species from putting Michigan farmers, landowners and thousands of family-owned businesses and jobs at risk. Michigan’s action is the latest in a nationwide fight against this invasive species problem. In addition to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oregon, Ohio, Tennessee, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma and other states are also fighting this problem. Michigan is not alone in this fight; we are leading the nation in trying to stop these animals before it is too late.
As a further example of the national scope of this problem, Oklahoma approved a ban on these swine on April 9. The New York Times (NYT) reported in March that the feral swine and wild hog population exceeds 5 million in 35 states. A March 11 NYT article on feral swine began: “They roam by night, picking cornstalks clean, making off with apple crops. They have almost no natural predators, but they have razor-sharp tusks and a seemingly bottomless appetite for plants and animals.”
Michigan must take a zero-tolerance approach to all invasive species, from Asian carp to wild hogs.
We encourage those with questions to contact us and we also encourage all pork producers to contact their state senators and representatives and tell them that the Invasive Species Order must stand as it is critical to protecting our industry from this insidious menace. A statewide quarantine on hog movement resulting from wild hogs spreading pseudorabies, swine brucellosis or some other transmissible disease to a domestic pork operation would be economically disastrous to every Michigan producer, regardless of the size of their operation or the type of production system they utilize. You can look up your legislators at www.house.mi.gov
. We also encourage you to send a copy of your letter supporting the ISO to Governor Rick Snyder. Governor Snyder can be emailed at: Governorsoffice@michigan.gov
We appreciate your continued support.
Ed Reed, President
Sam Hines, Executive Vice President