Effective April 1, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has banned feral swine and wild hogs in the state in an effort to prevent and fight invasive species that endanger the state’s agricultural industry and thousands of citizens and businesses that depend on it for their livelihoods.

A group known as the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan, which includes the Michigan Pork Producers Association, issued this statement: “Given the serious threat wild hogs and feral swine pose to Michigan’s livestock farmers, crop growers and rural landowners and family businesses, Michigan must ban these destructive, disease-carrying animals and close the door to all invasive species.

“Just as we do not want zebra mussels, Asian carp and other invasive species to threaten our economy, we should also not allow wild hogs and feral swine to proliferate and endanger thousands of jobs and Michigan’s entire agriculture sector – a consistent growth area employing hundreds of thousands of people.”

The Invasive Species Order has been painted as an effort by “Big Ag” and overreaching government to eliminate small, niche producers and any competition these small operations present.

However, Sam Hines, executive vice president, Michigan Pork Producers Association, says nothing could be further from the truth.

“The reality is that if Michigan doesn’t get its arms around the growing feral pig problem, it could devastate our industry, not to mention other segments of agriculture and the state’s wildlife populations and ecosystem,” he says.

Hines points out that Michigan pork producers are sending  between 10,000 to 25,000 hogs weekly to Ohio and Indiana to be finished contractually, and a pseudorabies (PRV) outbreak from wild hogs to domestic swine would likely result in Michigan being quarantined and unable to move feeder pigs out of the state. Michigan lacks adequate finishing facilities to accommodate these animals, so a worst case scenario could mean these animals end up getting euthanized.

“As a result of the wild hog trapping efforts we have conducted with the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy and USDA Wildlife Services, we know PRV is in the wild hog population because we have caught several carrying the virus.”