Mich. Judge Calls State Ban on Feral Swine Unconstitutional

A Michigan judge on Monday ruled that the state’s ban on some pigs, such as Eurasian boars and other so-called exotic swine, is unconstitutional, citing the Department of Natural Resources’ policy is too vague to distinguish between breeds that are domestic or invasive.

The battle between some Michigan breeders of so-called "feral swine" and the state DNR has raged over the last few years. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
The battle between some Michigan breeders of so-called “feral swine” and the state DNR has raged over the last few years. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Though Judge Thomas Solka of the Marquette County Circuit Court delayed his ruling from taking an effect, due to the expectation of an appeal from the DNR, it could apply to sections of the state’s Upper Peninsula. Other courts in Michigan would have to take up the issue for the ban to be challenged elsewhere, according to MLive.

Some farmers rear these animals for meat and others use them for hunting purposes. Many who raise them have been fighting against the ban, which was passed in 2010 and enacted in 2012, for years. The argument against the pigs is primarily that they’re damaging to the environment.

“It’s been a long battle and they’ve been very uneasy about the efforts to enforce what they’ve always perceived to be an unfair regulatory action by the DNR,” Glen Smith, an attorney representing two owners of such bigs, said, according to MLive.

DNR spokesman Ed Golder said it was “unfortunate the court’s ruling did not recognize the threat posed by Russian boar and the damage these animals can do to Michigan’s natural and agricultural resources.”

This video from Mississippi State University details some of the damage the pigs can do:

Those that raise the hogs though argue that they are not a nuisance if they are properly contained.

Judge Solka noted that some of the physical characteristics of domestic versus what the DNR considers invasive hogs can be similar, making it difficult to distinguish between the two.

Image source: Michigan DNR
Image source: Michigan DNR

“In short, at the risk of committing a felony, how is one to know whether a hybrid pig possessed by a farmer or game rancher … is, or is not, in violation of the [order] and the statute?” Solka said.

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