Ottawa Sportsmen's Club News

Carole Williams, Club Reporter


NOVEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING REPORT
Wolves, Wild Hogs Top Agenda

November 7, 2002

Russian Boar DNR Web Site Howling Wolf
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Officers, Jackie Strauch and Brad Johnson, attended the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club's November 4th meeting to address some concerns of the members regarding wild boars and wolves.

The MDNR's position on the escaped free roaming wild boar population near Point Abbaye is that there are no existing laws requiring them to enforce any type of control over the feral pigs. According to Officer Strauch, the Wild Russian Boar that escaped from a game farm on the Point are considered as livestock rather than game animals and existing game laws, which the DNR does enforce, do not pertain.

The Ottawa Sportsmen, long noted as taking a stentorian stance when it comes to issues that adversely affect our environment, have voted in favor of adopting and presenting a resolution to the proper agencies, specifically pertaining to finding a speedy solution to what may rapidly become yet another threat to our local ecosystem caused by the feral pig population at Point Abbaye. (More information on the topic of feral pigs will follow this meeting report.)

Officer Strauch was also asked to address the ORV designated trail use, or lack of use, and the resulting tickets that have been issued to those who thought they were within their rights to use certain trails. She informed the members that in the case of Federal Forest roads, those designated by signs with horizontal numbering are a "no-no", while those numbered vertically are open to ORVs. A free pamphlet explaining the rules and regulation regarding use of ORVs on forest roads, trails, state land, etc is available at the DNR Field Office in Baraga.

In a moment of levity, it was suggested by one member that if the wild hogs could be taught to drive 4 wheelers, the Department of Natural Resources would perhaps no longer have their hands tied by current laws regarding control of the Point Abbaye pigs.

Officer Johnson gave an informative slide show status report on the Upper Peninsula's wolf population. This population has increased in numbers to the point that, according to Johnson, they will soon no longer be on the endangered species list.

Many wolf sightings have been reported in the local area with one bow hunter reporting just recently that while bagging his deer in the Fire Steels, he tracked it only to find it already partially devoured by wolves. Others have reported sightings of wolves in their yards and fields.

Johnson, who is kept busy trapping depredating wolves and removing them to other areas, has outwitted all but two of a pack that has frequently been dining on livestock at the Keranen farm north of Pelkie. One such animal trapped, collared, and transported 200 miles away by Officer Johnson a couple of years ago has now managed to find its way back to the local area.

Johnson inferred that when the wolves are no longer considered an endangered species and can be hunted or trapped by sportsmen, they might become less bold in their dining habits and find it necessary to revert to the wild to hunt for food. While this is a comforting thought, many of us live in forested areas of what might be considered "the wild" and are not totally reassured when it comes to considering small children and pets who play in these areas.


Baraga High School Senior Lindsey Johnson also attended the monthly meeting to thank the membership for their monetary support toward her Youth In Government trip to Washington, D.C. in July. Lindsey, who is an excellent public speaker, left no doubt in our mind as to her sincerity when she went on to say that when it came to having the words to be able to thank the membership for it's support, she just couldn't find words appropriate enough to thank the OSC for all the gratitude she felt toward the club.

Lindsey, who acted as Lieutenant Governor for the Michigan Youth In Government last year, informed members that she has now been elected as Michigan's youth Speaker of The House. She gave a great extemporaneous and informative speech, complete with pictures, about her adventurous trip and it was very evident that she took good advantage of this opportunity to learn all she could about out nation's political heritage. Being the daughter of Brad and Sue Johnson, Lindsay is a family member of the OSC whom, we hope, will continue her affiliation with the club as an individual member after her 18th birthday.


In new business, it was announced that Board of Directors' member and Past President Bob Hietikko would chair the Nominating Committee for the Election of Officers to be conducted at the December meeting.

Ron Haka, Bob Hietikko, and Ed Fugenschuh will vacate board seats. The positions of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Sergeant at Arms will also be voted upon. Those members who currently hold these positions as officers and board members have the option of being nominated for another term should they chose to do so.

The Nominating Committee, comprised of Past OSC Presidents, will meet prior to the December meeting to seek out nominees for offices and board seats. Anyone interested in one of the available positions or who would like to suggest a member for nomination should contact Hietikko or one of the other Past Presidents in the near future. Nominations from the floor can also be made on election night, December 2nd.

It was also announced that the housekeeping team of Brenda and Mike Harkonen would resign at the first of the year. Any member interested in more information about taking over housekeeping duties, a task that pays a monthly stipend as well as extra payment for rental and club function clean up, should contact President Filpus or one of the Board of Directors as soon as possible.

Vice President Dyke informed members that Sign-Up Sheets for volunteers would be in evidence prior to club activities in the future. He also encouraged members who act as sponsors for new members to ask if these people would be interested in helping with any club activity and if so, to please note so on their membership card.

New members welcomed during the November meeting were realtor Jim Dooley (Pat), Apple Valley MN, and corrections officer Jim Loveless of Pelkie who were sponsored by Bob Hietikko. MDNR Officer Jackie Strauch also joined the OSC under the sponsorship of Mike Williams.

Venison Veggie Cut Up Booyaw Cook
3RD ANNUAL VENISON BOOYAW
December 7th Slated As Appreciation Night
A "Hunting Camp" style Venison Booyaw Night has been scheduled for Saturday, December 2nd. This night is reserved as a special evening to show the club's appreciation to all those businessmen and others who contributed to the success of our 41st Annual Turkey Shoot as well as our many other activities and events during the year.

Mike Mickus will be cooking up his now famous "Mickus Venison Stew" along with his tempting varieties of home made coleslaws and tasty fresh breads. Ladies of the club who would like to donate special treats for the diners will provide the desserts.

Joe Dyke, who has the ability to liven up any party, will assume the role of Master of Ceremonies and present a short program of appreciation along with a drawing for some special door prizes. Guitar pickers, fiddlers, keyboarders, and harmonica players are most welcome to entertain after dinner.

Festivities will get under way at 5 p.m. with a cash bar. There is no charge for the dinner, which is open to members and invited guests as well as contributors to this year's Turkey Shoot, but donations to help defray costs are appreciated. Reservations are appreciated, but not required and can be made by signing up at the club or by getting in touch with Public Relations at 338-2507 or cjwms@up.net.

Anyone who can help with this event, slicing and dicing vegetables, setting up the dining room, or helping in the kitchen should be at the club about 5 p.m. on Friday, December 6th. Dish duty volunteers are needed for Saturday night. Donations of fresh venison would also be greatly appreciated.

Russian Boar Boar Tusks Big Boar

POINT ABBAYE PIGS ON THE PROWL
Livestock or Game Animals?
Taking the advise of Board of Directors member Russ Weisinger, who suggested at our monthly meeting that anyone wanting to become more knowledgeable on the subject of Russian Boars should do an Internet search, this newsletter lady has done so.

The first search under Wild Russian Boars resulted in no less than 2,200 sites to visit for more information. Having already browsed through several of these and printed off a vast amount of information, I've made a decision to share some of it with our web site readers. None of the information I've so far had a chance to peruse has been in the pigs favor as being a welcome addition to our Upper Peninsula habitat.

To paraphrase from an article dated October 10, 2002 and written by Eric Sharpe, columnist for the Detroit Free Press, titled "YOOPERS HOG-TIED: Wild Boar menacing remote area, but state forbids killing them", the European wild hogs escaped from a Baraga County game ranch last year. They've become such a menace that many area residents and officials want the state to authorize year-round hunting of these hogs. Mr. Sharp states that experience in other parts of the country have shown that the hogs are not only a menace to people, but are enormously destructive to the environment.

According to this article, found at www.freep.com/news/mich/pig10_20021010.htm, the Point Abbaye hogs arrived two years ago when Jack Buchan opened a game preserve. Mr. Buchan has told Baraga County Prosecutor Joseph O'Leary that the animals escaped when vandals damaged a fence. Area residents, on the other hand, claim that poorly maintained gates provided a handy exit.

According to this article, Prosecutor O'Leary has said that because the hogs have escaped from a game farm, they are regulated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture instead of the DNR. The hogs are considered as livestock and are covered by the same rules that govern stray cows or horses and its unlawful to harm them.

Apparently, in order to rid the area of these stray hogs before they maraud far enough to become uncontainable, the sheriff first must catch and hold them for at least 15 days while the owner makes a decision as to whether or not he wants to pay to get them back.

Well folks, that's it in a nutshell. And while this writer does not wish to editorialize, the thought has crossed her mind that from the pigs stand point, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. Roaming free they are protected as livestock, but confined inside the perimeters of the hunting preserve they are considered expendable game animals. Hardly makes sense, eh?

However, while the powers that be search for the proper authority to take command of solving this wild hog issue in Baraga County, the facts are that these varmints are prolific breeders who tend to be so adept at depleting their food source that they roam further and further into the surrounding area, raising havoc to an ecological system that is hard put to support them.

A pamphlet or Bulletin #620 with the frightening title "WILD PIGS Hidden Danger for Farmers and Hunters" published by the United States Department of Agriculture is also available on the Internet at www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/wpleafle.pdf. It provides the information that wild pigs pose a threat to hunters, farmers and landowners in that these feral swine can harbor infectious diseases and can destroy crops, livestock pastures, native plants, and wildlife habitat. Moving them to new areas or allowing them onto farms with domestic pigs can have disastrous consequences.

Wild pigs are susceptible to two serious swine diseases: swine brucellosis and pseudorabies. They also can be carriers of tuberculosis, anthrax, tularemia, and hog cholera. They can be infected with up to at least 13 known diseases. Swine infected with brucellosis carry the disease for life and there is no effective treatment. Humans can get this disease through handling the infected tissues of wild pigs. Symptoms in humans are not distinctive enough for a clear-cut diagnosis, but those with the disease, known as "undulant fever" in humans, often report recurring fever, chills, sweating, weakness, headaches, muscle or joint pain, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Pseudorabies is not related to rabies, but is caused by a herpes virus shed through the nose and mouth of infected animals. Although it poses no health threat to humans, it does pose a threat to farm animals such as domestic swine, cattle, sheep and goats, and also domestic dogs and cats. Wild mammals such as raccoons, skunk, fox, opossums, and small rodents also can be fatally infected. There is no effective treatment and carriers are infected for their lifetime.

According to this USDA bulletin, relocating wild pigs without blood tests for disease first having been taken with negative results found violates the law. The State Veterinarian should also be contacted before wild pigs are moved to another location. The Point Abbaye pigs, however, are relocating themselves.

Facts gleaned from other wild boar web sites that might directly impact our area follow:

  1. Feral is defined as "having escaped from domestication and become wild". (Webster defines "domesticate" as causing animals to no longer be wild. Livestock, according to the dictionary, are considered domestic animals kept for use on a farm or raised for sale or profit. I don't have a degree in law, but it would seem to me that the liters born in the wild to roaming sows and boars, having reached sexual maturity and now increasing their number outside the perimeters of a fence might not necessarily need to be considered as livestock. *)
  2. Feral wild sow produce an average litter of 4 to 6, but this depends greatly on the breed and food availability. Feral sows that have just escaped or retain much of their domestic breeding habits will have larger litters, some as many as 10. The ratio of males to females in a liter is generally 50/50.
  3. Wild sow perform baby-sitting duties, watching over and suckling many litters beside their own while other sow are off feeding and this may account for the sometimes-large number of babies spotted with one sow.
  4. Wild hogs have a highly developed sense of smell that matches or rivals wildlife competing for the same food source. Their hearing is highly developed and their sense of eyesight is underestimated. Their low profile limits their ability to lift their head high like a deer, and although they may not run or pay attention when you approach, don't be fooled into thinking they cannot see well.
  5. Wild hogs have been known to attack humans and like bear, sows with litters can be dangerous
  6. The weight of fully matured feral hogs will vary from 200 to over 700 pounds. True Wild Boar or Russian Boar will weigh around 400 pounds when fully grown at 4 to 5 years of age. The breed line determines weight potential. Feral hogs can reach three feet in height.
  7. The male boar reaches maturity at approximately nine months and females as young as seven months. Reproductive age begins for a sow at 1 year and at 18 months to two years for a boar. Wild pigs can breed year round.
  8. Life expectancy in the wild is up to 6 years.
  9. True Wild or Russian Boar are ancestors of the domestic pig and the two species can interbreed. Fullbloods can be more aggressive than hybrids or standard wild boar, particularly when not raised in close contact with people.
  10. Three types of wild hogs are found in the United States: feral hogs, Eurasian wild boar (Russian) and hybrids between these two. None are indigenous to the United States.
  11. Gestation is approximately 114 days and sows can produce up to 3 litters per year under intense management. Two litters are more the norm in the wild.
  12. A boar has four continually growing tusks that can be extremely sharp and may reach five inches before being broken or worn from use. Tusks are used for defense and to establish dominance during breeding. The tusks found on the lower jaw can be extremely dangerous when put to use by a mature boar.
  13. Feral hogs harbor several parasites, some of which might pose problems for man or other animals. Fleas, hog lice and ticks are common external parasites. Internal parasites may include roundworms, kidney worms, lungworms, stomach worms, whipworms, liver flukes and trichinosis.
  14. Feral hogs can be credited as aggressive competitors in the food chain emptying nests of eggs including partridge and turkey. They have a significant negative impact on various plant species and entire ecological systems. While their preferred diet in this area is acorns, worms and vegetation, they also devour small mammals, reptiles, snakes, frogs, and fawn. They are omnivorous, eating animals and vegetation, and according to at least one wildlife manager, "eat anything they come across." This puts them in direct competition for food with most native animals in our peninsula.
  15. Wild pigs like to be around water where they can dig up and dine on tubers. Their rooting for this food often causes increased silt runoff into graveled streambeds destroying fish breeding areas. It also contaminates the soil and runoff from it.
  16. In some areas of the United States, hunters are encouraged to harvest wild pigs. In those areas the hunting of these wild pigs is unregulated because they are considered non-native creatures (as opposed to escaped livestock?). But hunters are advised that hunting wild pigs should be undertaken with the same caution used to hunt bear.

Not having a clear understanding of how many wild hogs have escaped at Point Abbaye over the years since having been introduced there and not knowing how many have remained free, the magnitude of those born out of captivity can only be guessed at. Their impact and the threat they pose to our ecosystem, however, are very real and must not be left to conjecture.

It should be clear to all who take the time to read through the vast amount of information available about feral hogs, wild boar, or Wild Russian Boar on the World Wide Web that action must be taken immediately before the problem becomes completely out of hand.

*The opinions stated in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all Ottawa Sportsmen's club members.

Some Web Sites about Wild Boar:
How to Build a Wild Hog Trap (Scroll partway down the page)
Invasive Species: Wild Boar

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