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      Battle over wild boar heads to court

      Roger Turunen spent most of his life on a farm. His $5 million operation in Baraga holds 500 pigs, most of them crossbred with Eurasian boar, which he raises for meat or sells to game ranches.

      Starting April 1, he and other wild boar owners could be in jeopardy.

      "Well, the DNR says they're going to turn us farmers into felons for the type of pig we raise," said Turunen.

      His response? He's suing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Last December, the department pegged the Eurasian boar an invasive species. Turunen is one of 35 wild boar owners in the state.

      Under the order, the DNR offers several different characteristics that would define an illegal pig, some of which could be found in both domestic and wild boar. But even with similarities, the wild boar is easy to spot, experts said.

      "They look different in their bone structure--much longer limbs, their legs are longer, feet are longer, their snouts are extremely long," said Dr. Tim Hunt, a veterinarian. Differences like those are what separates a domestic pig from a feral one, DNR officials said.

      "These animals are genetically different than a domestic pig, and the way that they behave is extremely hard to regulate. It's extremely hard to keep them behind fences," said DNR spokeswoman Debbie Munson-Badini.

      Turunen said he's never had a pig escape and said all pigs are naturally aggressive. "Any pig can cause a problem. Being feral, it's the state of being feral that's the problem, it's not the breed of the pig," Turunen said.

      We spoke with State Senator Tom Casperson on the issue.

      "I have always stood on the idea of regulate, do not eliminate. I am very disappointed in where this is headed," said Casperson.

      There is still time for the state legislature to find a way to regulate wild boar before the April 1 deadline. Turunen will be able to keep his pigs during his battle with the state, which could take months, if not years, to resolve.