Feral swine in Michigan has been a hotly debated topic recently. Everyone has their own opinion on this and I am no different. In my opinion we don’t have a feral swine problem and the last thing we need is more government regulations. Many biologists are comparing what has happened in the southern states with what could potentially happen here in Michigan. To me this is like comparing apples to oranges. States like Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida (just to name a few) all have a large wild hog population but how harsh are the winters in those states??? Oh yeah, they don’t have a winter. Pigs are able to easily feed year around without having to endure the harsh winter climate. Here in Michigan pigs can and will survive, but the potential for a population explosion like in the southern states isn’t the same. Again this is simply my opinion but now its time for some hard facts.
The DNR claims that it will be impossible to contain the feral swine population in the wild. To this I say hogwash (pun intended). This is a link to the DNR’s eradication plan for feral swine (click here). It says on this website that the DNR began tracking sightings and damage caused by feral swine in 2001. We can assume then that there must have been a wild hog population at that time. From this information we can establish that there has been a feral swine population for 10 years now. Today the population is estimated to be between 3 and 5 thousand animals (click here for source). The size of the state of Michigan is 62,713,600 acres. Lets assume that the population is a low estimate and say there are 10000 feral swine running around Michigan. This equates to approximately .0002 pigs per acre. To look at this another way lets make another assumption. The actual size of Michigan isn’t a factual representation of animal habitat. For arguments sake lets also assume that only a quarter of that acreage is usable animal habitat. That leaves us with 15,678,400 acres which equates to .0006 wild pigs per acre. This hardly seems like a problem at the moment. Just in case you aren’t buying what i’m selling yet here are a few more numbers to think about. Last year there were approximately 750,000 deer hunters expected to hit the woods. Now this isn’t an exact number so lets take off 100,000 people from that number so you can’t accuse me of skewing the data. That leaves us with a number of 650,000 people taking to the woods during deer season last year. According to the DNR website there were 43 confirmed sightings reported and 27 confirmed kills. Again lets make an assumption that for every sighting reported there were 20 that were not. That would make 860 sightings last year in Michigan. In November with 650,000 people walking around in the woods and sitting in deer blinds only .13% of hunters spotted a wild pig. It would have taken 6,500 sightings for 1% of the deer hunters to see a wild pig. This so called “problem” doesn’t seem to be the crisis the DNR is implying.
Although I don’t agree with the DNR on the severity of this “problem” I do agree that these animals need to be managed much like any other wildlife species. Again referring to the DNR website, The eradication plan involves officials trying to trap these animals in designated counties. This is not an effective means of population control and is a waste of taxpayer money. What I don’t understand is why the DNR won’t use the most valuable resource this state has. The resource I’m referring to is the 650,000 people that take to the woods every year during deer season. Hunters are the best answer when it comes to controlling an animal population. If 1.5% of deer hunters harvested a pig this fall that would wipe out an entire population of 10,000 pigs. The DNR has made it legal for any hunter with a valid license to shoot a pig but why aren’t there more pigs killed every year? Well my opinion is that hunters need an incentive to harvest a pig. If i’m sitting in my blind on opening morning and see a wild pig come through the brush I don’t want to pull the trigger and possibly ruin my chance at shooting a deer. If the DNR were to place a bounty of lets say $50 on every pig that would be all the incentive I need to pull the trigger and ruin my deer hunt. I don’t know how much the DNR has been spending on this feral swine program, but i’m guessing its safe to say that $100,000 has been used since the start in 2001. If this money was put up for a bounty that’s 2,000 pigs harvested. If the 3 to 5 thousand population estimate is correct at a minimum that would eliminate 40% of the population in a single year. That sure seems like a population that could be controlled.
If you have any thoughts on this issue or disagree with the numbers given please feel free to leave a comment or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.