Feral swine (aka feral hogs, wild pigs) incur an estimated $1 billion (US) in property damage and control costs, according to the USDA
(.pdf). They rip up crops, root up native plans, injure and kill other wildlife and carry disease. As of April 1, 2012, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources
them, permitting "any licensed hunter [to] shoot
feral swine on sight." The relevant Invasive Species Order
(.pdf), and its convoluted implementation, has a number of hog farmers up in arms
over the state's new ability to slaughter farm-raised pigs that meet the state DNR's description of "feral swine."
Originally scheduled to go into force last year, the ban was pushed back to allow owners of game preserves and legislators a limited period to create more stringent regulation of the preserves, a potential source for escaped hogs. Rocker Ted Nugent, an avid hunter and owner of a game hunting ranch, supported tougher laws rather than a full ban, commenting
that "People have lost their minds in Michigan. If there are 7,000 pigs running around Michigan, I'm a gay banjo player in a hee-haw band." The Michigan Pork Producers Association
, by contrast, is all for the ban
: "This is the only sensible way to deal with any invasive species. We wouldn't try to control Asian carp with regulations — they simply need to be kept out of Michigan waters. In the same way feral pigs need to be kept out of our state."
In the middle are farmers like Mark Baker, of Bakers Green Acres
, who raises Mangalitsa pigs
-- whose meat is considered a delicacy
-- and whose physical characteristics cause them to fall under the DNR's definition of feral swine
The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund has more background
on a situation that's pitting farmer against farmer, family farms against corporate ag, and the DNR's environmental concerns and unclear definitions against hog farmers trying to practice small-scale pasture-based animal husbandry of certain heritage breeds. Farmers, corporations, hunters and and fans of heritage breeds will all be watching how the sausage gets made