Property owners, farmers go hog-wild over feral pigs

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Feral pigs. Photo: NASA

By Danielle Emerson

LANSING, Mich.  — When Shiloh Waldon, a blacksmith from Hillsdale County, moved into his home a year and a half ago, he thought, “a lot of deer” caused the occasional property damage until it persisted and got worse.

What Waldon was about to find out is that the problem was much more critical than he expected: feral pigs had invaded his property.

“When my buddy and I had gone out looking in the woods behind me, you could tell they had been here a while. When you walk through the woods, it’s like someone went through it with a rototiller,” he said.

Waldon killed eight feral pigs in January and February alone. Two of them weighed more than 400 pounds.

Feral pigs are free-ranging animals that can break through fences because of their size and aggressive nature.

“They will even climb on top of other pigs to climb over the fence,” said Kristine Brown, laboratory technician at the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Wildlife Disease Laboratory.

Patrick Rusz, director of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, said that the average size of an adult feral pig is between 200 and 300 pounds. Hogs more than 300 pounds are rare.

State conservation officials recently reported that Gladwin County has seen packs of 20 or more pigs, and 150 were counted in Arenac County.

According to the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, feral pigs — which look like wild boar — are a combination of free-ranging pigs that were captured elsewhere and illegally released, escaped or neglected domestic animals, and Euroasian wild boar that originated on farms and privately owned game facilities.

“We have a lot higher percentage of animals that look and act like classic Russian wild boars compared to other states,” Rusz said.

The population of feral swine is highest in Arenac, Gladwin, Midland, Gratiot and Washtenaw counties, according to the DNRE.

The pigs are considered a nuisance for several reasons — they have caused significant crop damage in 20 counties, including Alpena, Arenac, Berrien, Gladwin, Kent, Marquette and Otsego.

Rusz said feral pigs have a global track record of causing environmental damage, especially because of their eating habits. The pigs “root,” or dig up, ground a foot or more beyond surface level in search of grubs.

Rusz said the pigs feed on a wide variety of livestock and other animals as well. They are best known in south Florida, for example, for killing newborn calves.

“If they can catch it, they can eat it,” said Rusz.

Feral pigs also can carry diseases such as pseudorabies — a disease that attacks the central nervous system and can sometimes be fatal in cattle or sheep. When transferred by the pig’s saliva or nasal secretions, the disease can stay in well water for up to seven hours or in grass and soil for up to two days.

Rusz said Michigan has been pseudorabies-free since 2000 but that feral pigs are renewing concern, especially among pork producers, over transmission of the disease to domestic pigs.

Nine swine killed in Saginaw and Gratiot counties have tested positive for pseudorabies in the past five years, Brown said.

Two of 20 swine found in Mescosta County tested positive for toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted to humans if meat isn’t fully cooked.

Until now, feral pigs have been considered livestock at large and there were legal restricting on shooting them. However, as the problem progressed, many county prosecutors agreed not to charge hunters who shoot feral pigs as long as they have permission of the landowner or a hunting license.

Legislation to legalize the shooting of feral pigs across the state has passed the House and the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Bioeconomy. The House legislation is sponsored by Reps. Mike Huckleberry, D-Greenville; Sharon Tyler, R-Niles; and Andy Neumann, D-Alpena. It’s now waiting in the Senate to be voted on.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ feral swine  fact sheet.

13 thoughts on “Property owners, farmers go hog-wild over feral pigs

  1. if some one need some help i got a caple of friems who would like to go hunting in texas so if there is any body in a ranch who need some help this is my email or call me to 469.364.2431 i be hapy to help you whit that thanks

  2. I think we should eliminate them, there not a native species as long
    As the meat is being used and not just left to rot, I don’t see a problem
    With taking them out. I’d like to get in on the action I have a house in
    Roscommon and would gladly dispose of any wild hogs, contact me
    At let me know……..

  3. I would love to get on a list to hunt these hogs at no expence to the land owner, if you or anyone els has info on this matter they can email me at or call me at 1-231-432-0080. I also have a cabin in the Mio-Grayling area near lots of snowmobile trails and state land that I will rent to anyone interested.. Thank you, Erik.

  4. I live in OK,the deptm of ag has started a website for landowners and hunters its workin pretty well

  5. To Jon, A pig in the wild is just that wild. Any wild animal can attack at any given time either provoked or at times unprovoked. The damage these animals can do to humans is a small reason as to why they are considered a problem animal.. Other reasons are crop damage, property damage, spread of disease, and believe it or not the can destroy a forest faster then you could imagine because of the way they forage for food. They can literally kill trees by damaging the root system while digging for grubs. They are out of control and unless something is done to put them in check the billions of dollars this state makes agriculturally will not only be in jeopardy but also the beautiful natural forest we have here in this great state. An example…. Look at parts of texas that have been overran by feral swine areas completely destroyed.
    I would like to see the DNR get with the farmers in the area and mail out listings to hunters that are willling to help farmers kill off feral swine they have seen on their property. Hunters get on a mailing list by calling DNR and when farmers report swine they simply either call someone on the list or send out letters and the first to respond to the farmer or DNR get the hunt. You can even set a number of guys to go on one property as I’m sure if there is 1 there there are more. All hunters sould be on same page to get feral swine under control so sharing a hunt I don’t see being a problem. Never know could meet a new lifelong hunting buddy and open doors to new areas for you to hunt. Just my thoughts. Good luck to all and keep on hunting

  6. I use my .22 and spear all the time, what i kill i donate to the church, to jay ministries to feed the homeless, and to feed the veterens. Nothing goes to waste, and it goes to a good cause. I’ll happily remove any hogs for free.

  7. Wild pigs are only life threatening and will bite you if you get near there young or there nest. I am a wildlife pro and am very smart with animals and there is no such thing as a wild pig just flying out of the woods for no reason and attacking a person. wild pigs are just like most other wild animals and will attack for good reason only. there is some stupid nonsense online and on tv showing make up nonsense about wild pigs in the middle of the night running through a house door or window and then flying into someones house at night and attacking people and want everyone to know that is all made up and out there to scare people. whoever made these sites and tv shows showing and talking about wild pigs doing those things are feeding out false info and just want to say shame on you all who are doing these things. the bible says though shall not lie.

  8. insted of paying all this money to have them move.Let the pepol of michigan hunt the crap out of them.Hell i cant fiend a pig hunt for no less then $500 ill pay $100 per pig if thay let me hunt them.So y spend $45,000 to have them moved wen you could make $100 pere pig its a win win sitchuwashon and im sher alot of hunters would jump to this chaling .So if you have a wild boar problem ill pay $100 to $150 per pig if u want them gone.

  9. I think they should open up a website for people to go so they can find out where to hog hunt in michigan. Farmers should have a web site so if they are having problems with these hogs people can contact them. I as a hunter would appreciate this.

  10. Does anyone have any info. where we can hunt these pigs. Are there any landowners that want help?If so please respond!

  11. land owners i will gladly volunteer to help eliminate some of that feral hogs problem, & with that we all win.

  12. land owners need help from bow hunters we will fix some of that problem give us that oppnt it will be a win win sutins for everyone..

  13. How can their be a problem with ferel hogs
    they taste way! to! good for that to happen.
    Sign me up for the culling I eat what I kill

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