2010-09-12 / Opinions

Imported Eurasian boars must be eradicated

Dear Editor,

At the Aug. 12 Natural Resources Commission meeting, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Wildlife Division will bring forward a proposal to add feral swine to the list of prohibited species in the state. The proposal would be an Invasive Species Order, eligible for DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries to sign at the Sept. 9 meeting of the NRC. This proposal is in line with a joint resolution passed by both the Agriculture Commission and the Natural Resources Commission in 2007, answers calls from the pork producers for a ban, and reinforces recent legislation that liberalizes the take of feral pigs statewide and designates feral swine a public nuisance.

In Michigan, we are in the unique position to shut off the source of this invasive species by prohibiting the possession of pigs to hunt. Other states, such as Texas, which has a rampant feral pig problem, wish they could be in this position.

Feral swine are problematic in Michigan for a few reasons. They are major carriers of several diseases that threaten Michigan’s domestic swine industry, which has an economic impact of $500 million annually. They pose a disease risk to both humans and wildlife.

Feral swine are voracious and opportunistic predators, with the capacity to significantly impact a number of desired species in Michigan, including wild turkeys, pheasants and ruffed grouse. They can prey on mammals, such as white-tailed deer.

Through their rooting behavior, they have caused over $1.5 billion in agricultural crop damage alone in the United States. This same behavior has destroyed river banks through soil erosion and has jeopardized water quality through the introduction of bacteria.

Michigan’s feral swine problem has increased in the last few years as imported Eurasian boars have escaped due to inadequate fencing and some have been allowed to roam free. Regulation on fence type is not the answer. As they say in Texas, “If a fence can be built to hold water, then one can be built to hold pigs.” Even with the most liberal “shoot-first, ask-questions-later” policy allowing licensed hunters to shoot feral pigs on sight, incidents of feral swine causing damage have escalated in our state.

Because these feral pigs are not native nor naturalized in our state, they have the potential to harm human health and severely harm our natural and agricultural resources, they qualify as an invasive species under Michigan law. There are no effective management or control techniques available.

We are beyond the point where regulation as an agricultural commodity will help the situation. Feral swine are an invasive species that must be eradicated. Allowing this species to flourish would mean we would devote hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars annually to dealing with it. That would adversely affect the DNRE’s ability to manage more desired species in our state.

We have the unique opportunity to stop this terrestrial version of Asian carp before they become established. Why wait and deal with the consequences of inaction, possibly forever?

Russ Mason DNRE Wildlife Division Chief

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 Huron County View, All Rights Reserved