A family in Marquette County in Michigan’s upper peninsula is grieving after their pet baby pot bellied pig was shot by a Michigan DNR officer on Thursday. The DNR officer contacted the family after Tony Gervasi made a post to his Facebook page inquiring about the whereabouts of his family’s baby pot bellied pig. Gervasi posted a photo of his piglet and what he says is his piglet’s blood just outside the end of his driveway on a rural road in Ishpeming, Michigan.
According to Gervasi, a DNR officer with 15 years of experience came to his house and told the family that he was responsible for shooting the family’s 30-pound baby miniature pig, but that the officer said he believed he was shooting a wild boar. The Michigan DNR officer allegedly told the family that it wasn’t clear that the piglet was not a feral swine until he noticed the piglet had been neutered.
“Its obvious that he was just a pet once he was dead because he is neutered, but even without that, 15 years of experience and he cant tell the difference between a baby potbelly pig and a feral boar!? Instead of coming right to us with the information he went and had his poor little body shipped to biologists for examination where im told we will probably not get him back from.”
Gervasi claims that the DNR officer lied to him and said, “He came out of the woods toward me at a trotting pace and was threat,” but the piglet’s caregiver claims that his family’s pet never ran and was incapable of going in the deeper snow, because he was the size of a Boston terrier. Gervasi went on to further question the DNR officer’s alleged explanation.
“Threat to a big DNR truck passing by?. This is an unnecessary act of nonsense and cruelty. We are at a loss of where to go with this, so please help us by sharing this to make it as public as possible so we have some backing so they dont look past us when we attempt to pursue the fight to get his body back.”
The family is grieving the loss of their pet pig tonight after a DNR officer shot it. http://t.co/EssNfnuR6M
— TV6 & FOX UP (@wluctv6) April 3, 2015
Michigan DNR Public Information Officer Ed Golder told Upper Michigans Source that the DNR officer thought that the baby pig was actually a wild pig when he spotted the animal and stated that the DNR officer who shot the family’s piglet was acting under policy instructions. The State of Michigan has declared feral swine a “nuisance species” and even created a campaign instructing the public to “shoot to kill wild hogs,” in a informational poster designed to look like an old western “wanted” poster. According to the Michigan DNR website, wild pigs or “Russian boars (Sus scrofa) are not native to the United States” and the feral swine in Michigan “are a combination of Russian boars and escaped or neglected domestic pigs.” Legislation in Michigan allows feral swine to be shot by the public without a hunting license.
“Public Acts 69-71 of 2010 declare feral swine a nuisance species and allow for the opportunistic take of any free-ranging pig running at large. Under this law, a person with a concealed pistol permit (CPL) or valid hunting license can kill swine running at large on public property; landowners or other authorized persons can kill swine running at large on private property; and local animal control officers and law enforcement can kill swine running at large on either public or private property.”
The most recently updated information from the Michigan DNR stated that no pigs had been killed enforcing the order by its department since the policy was adopted. Last year, there was one feral swine sighting in Marquette County, according to the Michigan DNR report. A Declaratory Ruling in Michigan was issued in 2011 regarding Michigan’s swine, but a ruling last summer clarified the specific species of pig that is considered a nuisance species in Michigan. Additional literature from the state explains “the exact standards that MDNR will be utilizing to determine the hybrid, genetic variants and offspring of prohibited swine,” according to the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
Public Acts 69-71 of 2010 allow a person with a concealed pistol permit (CPL) or valid hunting license to kill feral swine running at large on public property anytime during legal hunting hours, but of course, it is not permissible to shoot the swine “near farm buildings or where people or livestock are living” and shooters of feral swine must observe “all safety zone areas – 450 feet from possibly inhabited structures.”
The species of pig that is specifically prohibited in Michigan is the Sus scrofa Linnaeus also known as the “wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old world swine, razorback, eurasian wild boar, Russian wild boar.” The DNR uses phenotyping “to identify Sus scrofa and distinguish it from other species.” The wild pigs can be differentiated from other pig species, because they will have particular features, according to the Michigan DNR.
[Photos via Facebook, Michigan’s Feral Swine Wanted Poster, and Michigan DNR]