Michigan threatens Small Farms by Calling Heritage Pigs "Invasive"
Michigan threatens small farms by calling heritage pigs ‘invasive’
Things have been pretty tense on Michigan’s small pig farms over the past few days. Farmers who own rare heritage pigs in particular have been waiting anxiously, hoping the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) doesn’t show up to arrest them — or even kill their pigs.
As of April 1, the Michigan DNR was slated to start enforcing an order put in place last fall that classified wild boars as an invasive species. What does it have to do with farmers? It turns out the classification — which is based on a set of physical characteristics, such as straight ears, dark snouts, and a tendency toward stripes in their young — also includes many of the heritage animals kept on farms in the state. (Many farmers in the area raise an extra-fatty specialty breed called Mangalitsa, but they tend to cross them with heartier European hogs so they can withstand the cold Michigan winters).
Invasive wild boars have devastated many Southern states, so in a lot of ways the order has been an easy sell to some Michigan residents. Apparently 340 feral swine had been counted roaming in 72 of the state’s 83 counties. But most of those are thought to have escaped from the state’s wild game ranches — fenced-off areas populated with wild game for recreational hunting — not small farms. And farmers are making the point that pigs are smart animals; once they’re domesticated it’s very unlikely that they’ll ever leave a regular source of food.