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They Shoot Pigs, Don't They?
April 4, 2012 7:24 AM   Subscribe

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 has outlawed 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.
posted by MonkeyToes (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
very interesting! As a michigander, this is the first I've heard of it. So, under this law banning pigs that look like feral pigs, would a person with a gun be allowed to enter a farm and shoot any pigs that had the right markings/etc? Or would the fact that it's private property prevent it?

If private property prevents pork poaching, then what are the pork producers upset about? Just keep your pigs on your property, and you don't have to worry about it?

It sounds like the real issue is that, somehow, the hog hockers will be fined or something because the meat they grow comes in a non-regulation-approved package?
posted by rebent at 7:34 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


See also: The informative, riveting documentary Pig Bomb. We need to take a stand against this invasion!
posted by MangyCarface at 7:34 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The outlawing of owning specific strains of pig seems like an over-reach. I'm kind of glad to learn of Ted Nugent's new career, though.

Note to poster: incur inflict
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:36 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


to answer my own question, apparently owning a "feral" pig is a felony. Wow, michigan, that sounds like a great way to get rid of the ones running around destroying corn fields.
posted by rebent at 7:36 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


If there are 7,000 pigs running around Michigan, I'm a gay banjo player in a hee-haw band.

So the odds are pretty high, but you don't want to admit it?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:37 AM on April 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


The first I'd heard of this swine issue was quite recently in the NY Times. Who knew there was a pig plague upstate...?
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:38 AM on April 4, 2012


All pigs are non-native to Michigan, and indeed the rest of North America. My understanding is that the problem comes from hunting clubs rather than actual farmers, which gives Michigan a number of other effective regulatory routes to cut off the epidemic at its source without destroying small farms.

Force hunting clubs to get licenses and then prevent any hunting club with a license from importing or harboring any pigs of any kind.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:39 AM on April 4, 2012


Pig vs. Pig. May the best bacon win!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:39 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you watch any A&E, Discovery Channel or History Channel, you pretty much knew this around summer last year when suddenly there were like 12 reality shows about pig hunters.
posted by spicynuts at 7:40 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: I'm a gay banjo player in a hee-haw band.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:41 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Per Michigan DNR (.pdf), "feral swine" are defined as having one or more of the following characteristics:

Bristle-tip coloration: exhibit bristle tips that are lighter in color (e.g., white, cream, or buff) than the rest of the hair shaft.
Dark point coloration: exhibits “points” (i.e., distal portions of the snout, ears, legs, and tail) that are dark brown to black in coloration, and lack light-colored tips on the bristles.
Coat coloration: exhibit a number of coat coloration patterns:solid black, solid red / brown, black and white spotted, black and red / brown spotted.
Underfur: exhibit the presence of underfur that is lighter in color (e.g., smoke gray to brown) than the overlying dark brown to black bristles/guard hairs.
Juvenile coat pattern: exhibit striped coat patterns — a light grayish-tan to brown base coat, with a dark brown to black spinal stripe and three to four brown irregular longitudinal stripes with dark margins along the length of the body.
Skeletal appearance: Structures include skull morphology, dorsal profile, and external body measurements including tail length, head-body length, hind foot length, ear length, snout length, and shoulder height.
Tail structure: Straight tails.
Ear structure: Erect ear structure.
“Other characteristics not currently known to the MDNR that are identified by the scientific community.

...The MDNR may use previous inspection data for a facility, as well as advertisements that specify the existence of swine at a facility, as factors for determining whether a facility should be inspected for prohibited swine subject to the ISO."

So, under this law banning pigs that look like feral pigs, would a person with a gun be allowed to enter a farm and shoot any pigs that had the right markings/etc? Or would the fact that it's private property prevent it?


My read on this is that farmers who raise heritage breeds which manifest one or more of these traits are subject to the order, and that the state of Michigan's agents may legally destroy stock. The definitions and wording are contested all around.

I've seen heritage breeds of pig raised in the woods, confined by a single strand of hot wire. Would these pigs, covered under the physical characteristics, be considered for destruction by the Michigan DNR, because of the possibility of escape? Even if they were raised in on pasture, with higher, hotter, more effective containment? It's developing into a messy situation. As one who raises pigs on pasture--and occasionally heritage breeds--I'm watching the events in Michigan with concern.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:50 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ted Nugent makes it easy -- anything he hates has pretty much got to be a good thing.
posted by edheil at 7:54 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't see, as Blasdelb pointed out, how you can call one breed native and one invasive; no pig is native to the US (or horse, or sheep for that matter). What difference does it make what breed they are?

Wouldn't it make more sense to legislate how pigs are confined/that they are confined? Require tagging, with untagged pigs getting rounded up/shot and tagged loose pigs resulting in fines to the owners? (Or do you brand pigs? Tattoo them? Chip them?)

If a bunch of guntoting yahoos are importing and releasing pigs into the wild, then again, why does it matter what kind of pig they are releasing?

None of this makes any damn sense.
posted by emjaybee at 8:00 AM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Watching how the sausage gets made.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:00 AM on April 4, 2012


If only they were predators, for geese, or vice versa.
posted by Danf at 8:06 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, but many species of geese are native.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regulating enclosures would affect the mega farms. Hence you get legislation that punishes other legit smaller farmers but makes less logical sense. Welcome to politics.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:13 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


“We’re trying as hard as we can to reduce the number (of hogs) out there,” said Adam Bump, bear and furbear specialist for the DNR. “They can be taken by anybody at any time. You just need a valid license to be out in the woods with a firearm. We encourage people to try to help remove them.”

Most of these are russian boar, a .410 works nice.
posted by clavdivs at 8:16 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was just an article about wild pigs in the newspaper here.

Like most things in Oregon, it focused mainly on keeping Californians* out.

*Apparently, California has a major problem with wild pigs and they are threatening to migrate north.
posted by madajb at 8:20 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will say that my dad trapped wild hogs near the power plant he worked at. Taking those suckers to the processor and mixing it with deer meat (2 part hog, 1 part deer if I remember correctly) yielded some of the best sausage EVAR!
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:20 AM on April 4, 2012


Most of these are russian boar

"(b) Wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old world swine, razorback, eurasian wild boar, Russian wild boar (Sus scrofa Linnaeus)."

DNR's report of sightings/kills; map (.pdfs).
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:22 AM on April 4, 2012


Metafilter: a bunch of guntoting yahoos, importing and releasing pigs into the wild
posted by lalochezia at 8:42 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, humans are also an overgrown population of intelligent mammals running amok killing native plants and animals and sowing general destruction. Can we shoot them on sight, too? (Oh, wait, in Florida you totally can.)
posted by Mooseli at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or, you know, shoot all the hogs at mega-farms and then claim self defense. Your choice.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:11 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


On Ossabaw Island, of the coast of Georgia, there's actually a distinct breed of wild pig left over from the Spanish exploration. They're actually used for diabetes research due to their unique boom/bust diets. Like wild pigs everywhere, though, they wreck the place.

Anyway, the island itself is off-limits to visitors, but I got to visit as a result of a college course a few years back. I asked the guy who manages the island how population is controlled. Their solution? They hired a guy whose job, 6 months out of the year, is to hang out on the island and kill pigs. It blew my mind.

Imagine your job being to hunt down hogs on a gorgeous island populated solely by yourself, the land manager, and the crazy old lady whose robber baron family used to own the whole thing. I damn near changed my major to Itinerant Hog Slayer right then and there.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:14 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Or, you know, shoot all the hogs at mega-farms and then claim self defense. Your choice.

Get a jury of people who have ever been downwind of a hog lagoon and they'll never convict.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:15 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


They hired a guy whose job, 6 months out of the year, is to hang out on the island and kill pigs.

Being that this is America, I bet they had at least 17 or 18 million applications for that job.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:22 AM on April 4, 2012


Can anyone confirm whether Ted Nugent is / is not a gay banjo player in a hee-haw band?
posted by Wolfdog at 9:29 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


And do we need a license to shoot him?
posted by pracowity at 9:32 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


...I bet they had at least 17 or 18 million applications for that job.

Being that this seems to involve a niche job that most people wouldn't hear about, a seemingly simple job description, and a crazy old lady descended from a robber baron to boot, I bet they had zero applications for that job and Jimbo, the caretaker's nephew, was given the job outright.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:32 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


a crazy old lady ... and Jimbo, the caretaker's nephew ... on a nearly vacant island

Throw in the Harlem globetrotters and you've got yourself a darn fine Scooby Doo episode.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:37 AM on April 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


Throw in the Harlem globetrotters and you've got yourself a darn fine Scooby Doo episode.


Z- oinks!
posted by KingEdRa at 9:46 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Feral pigs are the worst. I can't even come up with more words because it'll just come out in an all caps rant. Anything that can be done to prevent feral pigs is beneficial. I do feel bad for those farmers raising heritage breeds who may be affected but if their pigs escape, it would take one generation for those pigs to become feral and majorly destructive. I imagine it would only take one generation for domestic pigs to become feral and destructive. It's not the colouring or the temperament, it's the running lose that's the problem. If your pigs can escape (and they're smart animals), then it's a problem.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid I spent my summers on my grandparents' farm in southwest Missouri. One summer a wild pig got into the back 40. We had porkchops, bacon, and sausage all summer.
Homer: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Lisa, honey, are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer: [Chuckles] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:58 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


All pigs are non-native to Michigan, and indeed the rest of North America.

Untrue.

Texas got concerned about this when it became clear the feral hogs were pushing out the native peccaries. Back when I was training Texas people on Westlaw my favorite legislation to show people was the "Depradating Wildlife" statutes-- they have long allowed anyone to shoot pigs as long as they weren't trespassing.
posted by norm at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This guy hunts pigs with a UAV
posted by wrnealis at 10:27 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Invasive species" is like "weeds" in that it is not really about the life form at all. It is more about how we think about the life form. Are Dandelions weeds or not? It all depends on who you ask. To a suburban law maintainer it is a weed and to a forager it is fresh salad. I say the best way to control the species we feel the need to is by eating them. I say eat the invaders. Then they are not invasive, they become food.

So with that goal in mind allow me to present a Wild Boar Pancetta

Note the above link is the work of a very good friend of mine. If that is too close please mods remove it with both my blessing and apologies.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 11:04 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This guy hunts pigs with dogs and his bare hands (previously)
posted by exogenous at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2012


I call, and reraise ya.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:30 AM on April 4, 2012


If you have ever had pork from a feral hog, you will never want store-bought pork again. You know the whole "white meat" thing? That's all hokum, bred into commercial hogs for whatever reason, and it lacks flavor. Feral hogs have dark meat that is intensely flavorful. But man, they do some serious damage to land and roads, as well as eat things like quail and turkey eggs, which means that they kill off native species here in Texas.
posted by Addlepated at 11:58 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you watch any A&E, Discovery Channel or History Channel, you pretty much knew this around summer last year when suddenly there were like 12 reality shows about pig hunters.

I caught an episode of Lady Hoggers a while back. It was amazing. A pair of large (in a couple of senses of the word) young southern women in jacked-up uber-4WD trucks dripping with chrome tearing around the bayou with guns, getting out and an wrasslin' down pigs in the mud. It was basically a parody-writer's idea of redneck heaven, or L'il Abner updated for the 21st century but without the deliberate humor.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:55 PM on April 4, 2012


If they're permitting hunters to shoot them on sight, I can't imagine they'll be a problem for long.
posted by tyllwin at 2:58 PM on April 4, 2012


> If they're permitting hunters to shoot them on sight, I can't imagine they'll be a problem for long.

In my state, there isn't a requirement that the person be a licensed hunter. Anyone, at any time, can shoot a feral hog (following normal DNR requirements - such as not on someone else's land, as has been asked above in this thread, but not about my state specifically).

Still, the population of feral hog exploded by an estimated 400% between 2008 and 2011.

Just because there are "hunters" doesn't imply that (a) there are a significant number of people who actually go around with an inclination to shoot a hog or (b) that anyone who might have the inclination goes around with the implements (gun, ammunition, bed-lining, etc) to actually do so at any given time (bed-lining and intention to process the hog are assumed requirements) or even (c) that the people who do have the time and inclination will actually pursue the beasts given all the opportunity in the world. I think if they instated a season on hog and declared no bag limit, it would be more effective than saying "anytime, anywhere".

Feral hog are a problem because there are not enough predators to control the population boom. Same with deer, possum, coon, rat, etc. Controlling the population will work better when the "hunters" aren't the only assumed solution to -- and actually the original cause of -- the problem.

In other news, we need some wolves and foxes in my state -- if you have some to spare, please send them across your border. Actually, don't until all states recognize a reasonable restriction on taking of predators as "hunting" -- it'll help you more in the long run.
posted by timfinnie at 4:39 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bah. People really disgust me sometimes. This dominion over all bullshit is pathetic, cruel and base.
posted by chance at 8:49 PM on April 4, 2012


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