A wild hog standing its ground in Congaree Swamp National Park. (S. Carolina)
Our native wildife, invasive species and domestic livestock gone wild share one important charecteristic: Adaptabilty! That is the way of nature. That is the science of evolution. In Michigan we are at the cusp of a new crisis: Big and nasty hoofed bacon. Be warned. These beasts have attitude and are armed with tusks! Fact of the matter is clear: We've got ourselves one heck of pig problem in our state. Feral swine have been confirmed all over Michigan and they pose a clear and present danger to native wildlife; especially ruffed grouse, wild turkey, reptiles, salamanders, white-tailed deer and pheasants. Domestic stock, agricultural crops (they are oppotunistic feeders and their wallowing behavior in fields is disasterous to crops) and humans are also at risk. In addition to the very real chance of wild boars causing physical injury to humans, wild boars transmit a host of diseases to humans; among them, brucellosis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, toxoplamosis, sarcoptic mange, E.coli, trichinosis and tuberculosis.
Kudos to DNRE director Rebecca Humpries for signing an order to make feral swine and wild boars an invasive species in Michigan. She stated the obvious, "Feral swine pose a significant risk to Michigan's wildlife, ecosystems and agricultural resources, and they are a serious disease threat to humans, wildlife and domesticated pigs." Our State Legislator has until July 8th, 2011 to get off their hams, stop snorting and wallowing about in the mud of politics and enact strong effective laws to regulate the facilities that currently provide wild boar breeding and fenced in hunting pens to shoot an exotic pig trophy. Contrary to denials, it does not take a detective or wildlife manager to see that these private operations are the root of our Hogs Gone Wild problem. We have ignored the source too long.
If the Legislature does not act by the July deadline the Invasive Species order will go into effect, making it illegal to posses wild boar in Michigan. That is a start. No enough. I see a fault:
Too little, too late. Similar battles are being waged and lost
in many states. In Texas it is an expensive losing battle with big bacon on the move, breeding in the wild and adapting to our ways faster than we can adapt to theirs--and kill them.
Strict regulations and massive public education combined with a shoot on sight policy (where the discharge of a firearm is legal and safe) is the way to go. For more info on feral swine go to www.michigan.gov/feralswine
. This site includes feral swine reporting forms.