Another chapter in the sporting swine saga has been written; the DNR has just issued a declaratory ruling on how they will determine what defines a prohibited invasive swine.
As you know, the Department of Natural Resources director’s order listing sporting swine as a prohibited invasive species took effect on Oct. 8, making it illegal to possess the animals in Michigan. However, active enforcement of the order will not start prior to April 1, 2012, so sporting swine facilities (game ranches) can continue to use this time to reduce the pig population on their properties. In April, facilities still harboring wild boars and other sporting swine may face violations and fines. Violation of the prohibited invasive species statute (PA 451 of 1994, Part 413) can be a felony associated with hefty fines in the state of Michigan.
But the question arose from the Michigan Animal Farmers Association, an umbrella group for captive hunting facilities and their breeding facilities, as to how the DNR will determine what is a prohibited species versus what is considered a legal domestic hog. The prohibited species list says that:
Sec. 40.4 (1) Possession of the following live species, including a hybrid or genetic variant of the species, an egg or offspring of the species or of a hybrid or genetically engineered variant, is prohibited:…(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). This subsection does not and is not intended to affect sus domestica involved in domestic hog production.
After consulting with scientists and reviewing the scientific literature, the DNR’s ruling states that they will use “phenotypes,” or physical characteristics, to determine what pigs are prohibited under this order. In the response, they said that they will use factors such as bristle coloration; underfur and coat coloration and pattern; and skeletal, ear, and tail structures and appearances to define what a wild boar looks like.