Lawmakers Wrestling With Wild Hogs

  • Wild hogs in a breeding facility. (Photo by Peter Payette)

There’s an enormous project underway to clean up and protect the Great Lakes. It’s called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. People are doing things like cleaning up toxic hot spots…restoring wetlands… and trying to keep Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan.

Melinda Koslow is with the National Wildlife Federation. She’s an author of a new report on how climate change might affect these projects. She says scientists are finding the climate in the Great Lakes region is already changing.

“We definitely are noticing warmer water temperatures. For example, Lake Superior is the fastest warming freshwater body on Earth. We’re also noticing thinning lake ice, and we have flooding events more frequently.”

Koslow says these changes will affect the people who are working to clean up the Lakes – and rebuild habitat.

“We wanted to make sure we protect those investments for the long term by thinking about integrating climate change.”

There’s a lot to protect… with $300 million of taxpayer money invested in these projects this year.

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This is the Environment Report.

Wild hogs have been the talk of the state legislature this week. Hunting ranches call the hogs Russian boars. They’re brown and hairy and the males have little tusks. The hogs are bred and raised to be hunted. Wild hog hunts typically go for around 500 or 600 bucks.

The Department of Natural Resources says wild hogs have gotten out of hand. The DNR says the hogs have gotten loose and are running around… doing things like tearing up the soil, destroying crops and competing with other animals for food.

The agency points out that wild hog breeding and hunting within these fenced facilities is currently unregulated. Last year, the DNR director signed an order. It will make it illegal to possess a wild hog in Michigan. The order goes into effect July 8th… unless a law is passed to regulate wild hogs on hunting ranches.

Ted Nugent is possibly the most outspoken critic of a ban on wild hogs. He owns a hunting ranch near Jackson.

“And there’s this voodoo subculture out there that is misrepresenting that there are pigs loose and there are pigs out there destroying the environment and destroying family farms, when none of that is true.”


Nugent says he’s never had a hog escape the high fences at his ranch.

“And by the way, the evidence proves that most of these feral pigs that have escaped have escaped from pig farming operations. Not hunting operations. So there’s all kinds of hysterical, ignorant misrepresentation out there.”

HINES: “That’s a pretty bogus argument.”

Sam Hines is the executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association.

He says pigs are not escaping from pig farms. He says pigs used to be raised outdoors, but now about 90% of pigs are raised indoors.

“I’ve grown up in the industry and quite honestly they’re quite difficult to keep behind fences sometimes as well, but unlike the breeds that are used for sport shooting purposes, the domestic animals, they know where their buddies are, they know where their food source is and they don’t go anywhere.”

Hines says he supports a ban on wild hogs. He says wild hogs carry diseases.

“If we can’t move hogs out of the state because we have contracted some of the diseases, in particular the pseudorabies virus, which these animals in the wild are known to carry, it could just be economically devastating to the pork industry.”

Now, it’s up to the state legislature to figure out what to do. Lawmakers are discussing a package of bills that would allow hunting ranches to keep wild hogs under certain conditions. Republican state Senator Rick Jones also just introduced a bill that would make the DNR’s order a law… and make it illegal to shoot wild hogs on fenced ranches.

That’s the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.