|Caesar, the pot-bellied pig.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Gervasi.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is now enforcing its swine invasive species order (ISO) by shooting pet pigs if they step even a short distance outside their owner’s property. DNR is adopting a “shoot first, ask questions later” policy for an ISO that is vague and ambiguous; DNR has no guidance explaining to what hogs the ISO actually applies.
Here is a letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder from a man whose “invasive species” pet was killed by a Michigan DNR officer.
On Thursday April 2, 2015 our pet pot-bellied pig, Caesar, walked down our driveway and was on the edge of the gravel road in front of our property sniffing around like he had many times. However, on this day, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer shot him. Since that time, emotions have run high for me and my family, trying to understand and seek justifications for this action.
On Friday April 3, the DNR Conservation Officer who shot our pet did have enough integrity to stop at our house attempting to explain. At the time, we blamed him. We concluded that this was just a DNR guy with nothing better to do but to kill something. However, it turns out that the broader situation runs deeper than that, apparently involving many others up the chain at the DNR. One of the things that the Conservation Officer told us is that he was “following orders.” At the time that didn’t mean much, but now that we have had time to study what the DNR has done, his statement appears to have been accurate.
Under former DNR Director Rodney Stokes, an Invasive Species Order (Amendment No. 1 of 2011) was signed. This “order” considers pot-bellied pigs an invasive species in the state of Michigan. Since pot-bellied pigs are “Hybrids and Genetic Variants” of prohibited species, and we don’t believe Caesar was exempt as “domestic hog production” (Caesar was never intended for a dinner table), we believe he was identified by the conservation officer as an invasive species under the DNR Invasive Species Order.
Digging deeper into the DNR Invasive Species Order, we find nothing written as how to identify what pigs are illegal and which ones are not. In fact, in June 2014, current DNR Director, Keith Creagh rescinded a Declaratory Ruling, which described what illegal pigs are, and from what we can see, it hasn’t been replaced with anything.
Finally, we found that in March of 2014, Judge Thomas Solka ruled that the Invasive Species Order and Declaratory Ruling were both unenforceable because they were unreasonable and arbitrary (unconstitutional), and we completely agree. We have a dead pet as proof of that. It is disappointing that the DNR has chosen to appeal Judge Solka’s ruling, because if they had not, Caesar would be alive today. Caesar, our pet, was neither wild, feral, nor running at large. He lived in the house with us since the day he arrived here.
Respectfully Governor, this is a big mess created by the Michigan DNR under your watch, and we think you should consider getting it cleaned up. We are now convinced that the conservation officer was, as he put it, “following orders” and those “orders” are Invasive Species Order Amendment No. 1 of 2011. His “orders” are unconstitutional because you cannot enforce a law when it is not possible to identify what is legal and what is not.
We would appreciate your consideration to also rescind Invasive Species Order Amendment No. 1 of 2011, so this cannot happen to someone else.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
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