By Abigail Norton
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY – Feral swine — otherwise know as pigs on the lam — received attention this week as Utah’s legislators debated HB59, a bill that would make shooting the animals legal in the state.
“Utah cannot barbeque its way out of the feral swine problem,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork. According to line 67 of the bill, “Feral swine are detrimental to the state’s interests in agriculture and wildlife.”
The House voted 72-2 to approve the bill. A Senate committee also voted 5-0 to send the bill to the Senate floor.
HB59 regulates the killing of feral swine in Utah, specifying that the animals may be killed year-round in any number. The bill would allow the animals to be killed with a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow. Only swine without an ear tag or other visible identification can be killed.
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said that feral swine have moved into southern Utah, causing serious damage to farms and growing operations. “It’s become horrific,” said Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns of the feral swine problem,
Of the two ‘no’ votes the bill received, Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley, was one of them. His opposition was to line 69, which states that feral swine can be killed “in any manner.”
Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen, also voted against the bill. “I just felt obligated to my constituents,” Chew said, noting that specific individuals in his district are interested in feral swine hunting, presumably for profit. HB59 would prohibit individuals from receiving compensation for hunting feral swine.
The feral swine bill is reminiscent of the 2011 bill HB210, which sparked national media attention after attempting to make shooting feral cats and other animals legal.