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Michigan Destroys Agri-Tourism with Swine Invasive Species Order

wild-boar

Hunting on Private Preserves is Being Outlawed by a Swine Invasive Species Order from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) has declared swine with certain “physical characteristics” an invasive species. As they begin to roll out the swine Invasive Species Order (ISO), they have jumped the regulatory fence from public lands to private property. Much to the horror of landowners, farmers and business owners, the MDNR is targeting domesticated and humanely raised pigs on private property and farms across the state.

Michigan farmers and ranchers as of April 1, 2012 are being subjected to Michigan DNR inspections by armed DNR personnel. Swine owners face possible felony charges and staggering economic losses and other criminal penalties.

Until now, the Michigan Department of Agriculture regulated all swine farms in the state. The Animal Industries Act sets forth protocols for disease testing and other animal health rules.

Wild Game Hunting is Family Fun, Healthy Food

Private hunting preserves are very popular with individuals, who enjoy getting outdoors and harvesting their own animal. To them, it is not just sport, but about providing their own food for the family freezer. These hunters prefer naturally raised animals and bringing home their own bacon, chops, and ribs. Known in the industry as “select harvesters,” these are people of all ages who want to experience nature with their families. Yes, they may mount a boars head on their wall, but they also prefer to feed healthful wild game to their family and give thanks for the bounty of the earth. They appreciate the privacy, safety and security offered by a simulated hunting experience.

Rock star Ted Nugent owns a Michigan hunting preserve. He had this to say, “This order was fraudulently perpetrated by lies and inexcusable misrepresentation by power abusing corrupt politicians and their paid lobbyists and organizations knowingly lying about numbers, species and conditions…It’s a sad day for Michigan and America when private property rights are blatantly trampled.”

hunters-group

Hunters with their Kill, Next Stop, Butcher Shop

Dream Business Turns into Nightmare

Michigan private preserve owner, Greg Johnson, is a retired engineer. To please his mom & dad, he went to college and got an engineering degree. He worked for years as a geological and environmental engineer. Yet, it wasn’t really satisfying to him.

Lake-Trout

In the Summer, Greg takes families fishing on Lake Superior

Today, he has found his true calling. He is living his dream as owner of Bear Mountain Quest. Greg travels around the U.S. to hunting shows promoting his trademarked “Raging Russians,” wild boar hunting adventure. He is a one man tourism bureau, promoting Agri-tourism, with no help from the State of Michigan. He offers four seasons hunting and fishing adventures. He aims to please the whole family, wives and kids are welcome. He is loved by others in his community for the tourism his private enterprise generates.

Greg has taken land too fragile to be tilled and farmed in a traditional manner and found a suitable agricultural use for it. The vertical bluffs, bedrock and dense forest could not be farmed in any other way. The pigs love the rugged levels and the densely forested terrain.

With his engineering background, he personally designed and built a 4500 square foot hunting lodge with 4 bedrooms and 4 baths.  He has a professionally engineered containment system which includes 10 foot high game fence, with cleared perimeters inside and out, with the added security of electrical fencing inside. Recently, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources inspected his fence and gave it an A+ for Excellent.

And, yet, this same agency is out to destroy his business.

The state agency has decided “sporting swine” are illegal, bad, and dangerous. They have campaigned against private hunting preserves, seeking to outlaw them. Their public relations campaign went national, even appearing in the NRA Magazine, American Hunter.

Piglets

Piglets Eating Corn

Greg claims, “I once had 450 guests a year, now it is about half that, thanks to the Michigan DNR.”

Greg knew he was in trouble, when he exhibited at a show in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The MDNR, from another booth at the same show, was handing out anti-swine literature and telling people that they were going to “close down private hunting preserves.” Claiming the pigs were diseased, and the operations unregulated, the state agency was maligning his healthy pigs and prosperous small business.

Eat Wild Trend Creates Conscious Carnivores

On this 211 acre estate, he farms high quality heritage pigs (San Diego, Bzikot, Andreas, and Kaldin are the breeds).

Originally sourced from the Wild Boar Coop in Saskatchewan, Canada, these swine are prized for their meat value. Today, Greg breeds his own, and sources from other Michigan farmers. Since the sows are raised in their natural habitat, they are able to select their breeding partners. Their babies are farrowed in the deep recesses of his 100 acre dense cedar forest. The pregnant sows pull down cedar, hemlock and spruce bows to build their nest.

“If you were a pig, knowing that in the end you were going to be harvested, this is where you would want to spend your life,” says Greg.

In 2011, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, decided that for one year, the only meat he would eat would be from animals he would kill, himself. In doing so, he became one of the ultimate foodies, a select harvest hunter.

Michigan Government Bucks the Health Trend

As the wild game culinary trend continues to grow in popularity, Michigan is one state that could have been a leader in this form of Agri-Tourism. Instead, it has chosen to lose out, big time.

At one time in Michigan, there were 1000 private deer hunting preserves. Today, because of the hostile regulatory climate, created by the Michigan DNR, less than 400 remain. And, out of the 65 swine hunting preserves, only a handful survives. One of the few that remains is Greg Johnson’s Bear Mountain Quest.

Greg Johnson has filed a lawsuit against the DNR to try and preserve his swine sanctuary, and the rights of his creatures to live in the paradise he has created.

How you can help

Contact the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and ask them to stand up for farmers and wild game ranchers. Regulation of these private concerns belongs squarely in their camp. Tell them MDNR is trespassing on their turf and hurting these vital rural enterprises.

Keith Creagh, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
(517) 373-1052
creaghk@michigan.gov

See the Action Alert by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Book your family vacation at Bear Mountain Quest, and support Greg Johnson’s business!

http://fishingstannardrock.com/

http://bearmountainquest.com

Learn more about the wild boar industry
Wild Boar Production

Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit.

This post is part of the Fight Back Friday blog carnival, see more activist items on Food Renegade blog.

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Comments

  1. The Michigan DNR went to two ranches this weekend, and one farmer, so afraid of being charged with a felony, shot all his pigs, piglets. He described the horrible scene to me, and said he had to shoot pregnant sows right in front of their babies, and then watch the babies scurry and scream, then he had to shoot each of them. The savagery of the state is beyond imagining. And a pox on those state legislators that could have stopped this and they did nothing.

    The governor appointed the guy who called all this into being. And in spite of thousands of phone calls of protest, he has refused to stop this insanity.

    I got so choked up hearing this ranchers story. The worst of it is, without those pigs, and with no compensatory damages, he will lose his ranch.

    This shouldn’t be happening in America.

  2. Absolutely right, Kim. Not even the British did this. We are supposed to be the land of the free. The DNR is supposed to protect the natural resources of Michigan, not destroy small businesses on private land for the benefit of the big pork industry. That scene you describe is horrifying. And the thought that people will go to prison for raising heritage pigs behind fences is beyond belief.

  3. Wrote to the governor, complained, etc. They sent a canned letter. I doubt that will help. What needs to happen is an outright boycott of the “big” commercial pork producers who were, by the way, supporting this law against small farmers. Perhaps they will change their tune and put their lobbyists to work to stop killing these animals. And the fact that they have declared them feral based on what they look like, whether their tail is straight or curly, whether their ears are floppy or not, strikes me as madness and no different than humanity doing that with people. They would be able to shoot all wild horses and all dogs that look like pit-bulls, etc. Unfortunately, our media focuses on the lives of the Kardashians and the like instead of reporting meaningful stories.

  4. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Yes Liz, you’ve got that right. Our media is obsessed with non-essentials and ignores major outrages like this. I know this for a fact because I sent at least 4000 press releases and got only 2 phone calls from journalists. Unbelievable.

    Kim Kardashian wants to run for Mayor in a town with no mayor. Now that is important news, don’t you agree?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Even private hunting preserves have fallen under this cruel “invasive species order” that is being promulgated by callous bureaucrats. […]

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