False Rumors About Feral Swine Enforcement - Setting the Record Straight
False rumors have circulated about the manner in which the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is enforcing a 2010 Invasive Species Order declaring a certain species of swine prohibited in Michigan.
We'd like to set the record straight.
There have been no raids on properties. Since active enforcement of the order began, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has conducted inspections on game ranches and breeding facilities throughout Michigan. These facilities have in the past have been known to possess prohibited swine. The inspections are conducted by trained Wildlife personnel and conservation officers. The vast majority of these inspections have been conducted with the consent of property owners.
The DNR has not violated anyone's constitutional rights. The DNR has followed the law, the Michigan Constitution and United States Constitution in all its enforcement actions. Every inspection starts with a request for voluntary access to inspect the facility. If access is not voluntarily granted, the DNR seeks a court-issued inspection warrant or a court order. The DNR has been denied access to property on two occasions. In one case, the DNR sought and received an administrative inspection warrant to legally search the Deer Tracks Ranch in Fife Lake, Michigan. No prohibited swine were found at that property. In the other case, the DNR initiated a civil complaint against the Renegade Ranch Hunting Preserve in Cheboygan County, Michigan. DNR obtained a temporary restraining order from the court that provided access to the property to conduct an inspection. That litigation is ongoing.
The DNR has not arrested anybody in enforcing the order. The DNR will continue to work with property owners on a voluntary basis wherever possible.
The DNR has killed no swine in enforcing the order. To date, the DNR has inspected only hunting ranches and breeding facilities that supply swine to hunting ranches. These animals are typically possessed and raised to be hunted. Property owners had 15 months since the Invasive Species Order was first put in place to plan for complying with the order. The DNR sought throughout that period to work with property owners who had prohibited swine, and even found out-of-state buyers for some prohibited swine. Property owners who have killed prohibited swine did so by their own choice and as an alternative to selling their animals prior to the enforcement deadline.
The Invasive Species Order is not an attack on farms. In fact, the order is intended to protect Michigan farms. The animals at issue are not traditional farm pigs. The Invasive Species Order prohibits a particular species, Sus scrofa Linnaeus, commonly known as Russian boars, Eurasian wild boars or razorbacks. This species is the terrestrial equivalent of Asian carp. The swine are incredibly destructive omnivores that destroy wildlife habitat and carry diseases that threaten domestic hogs, other livestock, wildlife and people. The owners of heritage pigs are not affected unless they own a Russian boar or a hybrid of a Russian boar.
The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the department's issuance of the Invasive Species Order one month before enforcement began. Further, the Court of Appeals ruled that the department was required to list this species as a prohibited species, pursuant to its statutory obligations under Part 413 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.
Michigan residents who have questions about whether their swine are prohibited under the Invasive Species Order may contact the department.
For more information about the Invasive Species Order and to learn about the problem of feral swine in Michigan and nationwide, go to www.michigan.gov/feralswine.
Thank you for taking the time to learn the facts about this action.