Baraga County farmer wins exotic swine case against Michigan DNR

BARAGA, Mich. (WLUC) - A pig farmer has won a lengthy court battle against the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, according to a press release issued Thursday by Joseph O'Leary, attorney for Roger Turunen.

"After more than seven years of litigation, Baraga County Pig Farmer Roger Turunen and his wife Brenda have been vindicated in their lengthy battle to save their animals, their farm and their way of life," said the press release.

The legal battle has been ongoing between Turunen and the DNR since Feb. 2012. The DNR says the Russian Boar species eats wildlife, roots up farm fields and carry disease to domestic livestock. The Turunens say their pigs are domestic, not the Russian Boar, and cannot get easily get loose as the DNR claims.

The press release from O'Leary is below:

Today the Baraga County Circuit Court, via the Honorable Judge Charles R. Goodman, issued its opinion that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR’s) Invasive Species Order (ISO) (which criminally prohibited certain breeds of pigs) was unconstitutionally vague when applied to the Turunens’ situation because it failed to provide fair notice of what, specifically could cause a pig to be classified as illegal, and because the ISO impermissibly encouraged arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement by DNR officials. The Court also ruled that, regardless of the unconstitutionality of the law, the DNR had failed to prove that any of the Turunen pigs was prohibited by the ISO.

Roger Turunen stated: “I am happy that the judge ruled in our favor. The Court of Appeals said that the ISO was constitutional, but now we have the circuit court telling us that the DNR used it unconstitutionally against me. Hopefully this will stop them from going after other farmers in the future.”

“The court’s ruling should put an end to the DNR’s enforcement of this ridiculous regulation. None of Roger Turunen’s pigs have ever escaped into the wild and gone feral, none of his pigs have ever caused the environmental damage the DNR claimed. It is shameful when one considers the enormous waste of taxpayer dollars that went into this prolonged litigation. From the beginning the ISO was designed to destroy one farmer’s successful effort to create and raise on a pasture a new type of pig. A pig entirely derived from well-know heritage breeds of pigs. Fortunately we have a constitution that prevents such arbitrary, heavy-handed tactics by a governmental agency,” said Joseph O’Leary, one of the Turunen’s attorneys.

If you'd like to read the court document in its entirety, you can find it in the related links section of this story.

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