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Michigan Court of Appeals Holds DNR’s Invasive Species Order Regarding Russian Wild Boar Is Constitutional

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Liza C. Moore
Foster Swift Agricultural Law News
July 17, 2015

On June 2, 2015, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided Johnson v Dep’t of Natural Resources, holding that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Invasive Species Order regarding Russian wild boar is constitutional. Back in August 2011, the DNR issued an Invasive Species Order Amendment No. 1 (“ISO”), adding Russian wild boar and their hybrids to the list of Michigan’s invasive species. The Court of Appeals characterized Russian boar owners’ response to the ISO as a “firestorm of opposition.” The DNR then issued a declaratory ruling describing characteristics of the invasive boar. Boar owners then filed lawsuits against the DNR, which were consolidated into one lawsuit in Marquette Circuit Court. The circuit court held that that the ISO violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the constitution, and enjoined any enforcement of the ISO against the plaintiffs’ pigs. After the circuit court ruling, the DNR rescinded the declaratory ruling. The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court’s equal protection and due process rulings. The Court of Appeals held that the ISO “easily” survived the equal protection challenge, and that there was no substantive due process violation, and that the ISO was not unconstitutionally vague. The Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction that had prevented enforcement of the ISO against the plaintiffs’ pigs.