In Europe, there are apparently too many pigs (perhaps I should say feral porkers). They are moving from the forests and into yards and gardens where they are becoming more and more at ease with people.
In one town, a 200 pound (!) porker made it into a clothing store where it went on a rampage, sending customers running. After shoppers and staff had been evacuated, police moved in to deal with the intruder. But when beast charged, the officers were forced to open fire, leaving the run-away boar riddled with bullets.
On NPR the other day I listened to a story of homeowners complaining of the porkers lounging around their yards just steps from their back doors! I would assume this can be most disconcerting, as the beasts are wild relitives of long ago domestic pigs. Today the wild pig will dig a wallow, or hole, in order to fill it with urine, as a part of the courting process. Eww! In addition, big males can be waist high, five feet long and weigh upwards of 300 pounds…not a creature you’d want to interupt while bathing for a date in your backyard.
Elsewhere, train passengers in Brussels were delayed for almost four hours after their TGV train smashed into one of the animals that had strayed onto the tracks.
The wild boar is a national icon, immortalised on crests of the aristocracy, it’s a favourite dish of Europe, and has been the target of tens of thousands of hunters in the hills and forests there for more than a thousand years. But now French boars have a problem: there are too many of them. Experts say the population of wild boars is for the first time above a million - despite a record 500,000 killed by hunters last year. 'It's an invasion,' said Morel Marleux, of the French Small Game Association. 'We need a war on boars.' Hmmmmmm...a Boar War?
The population surge has led to an estimated 20,000 car accidents a year involving the animals and hundreds of millions of pounds of damage to crops and property as boars leave their traditional habitat of woods and forests to head into fields, gardens and backyards.
“At first they went just in search of worms or larvae, but now they are increasingly partial to wheat, barley, potatoes and, above all, sweetcorn,” reported one worker. The boars are even heading further afield. The arrival of one on the Mediterranean island of Port-Cros, off Provence, made national news. Efforts are being made to catch it as it eats it way through huge quantities of rare plants.
It has been said there are up to 1,000 wild boar and feral pigs living in the British countryside and that the number could easily rise to 10,000 within 20 years if there is no action (contrasted with an estimated million-plus living in France right now).
Boar only returned to the wilderness fairly recently. After some 300 years of absence, boar started escaping from wildlife parks in the 1970s. Yet more escapees found their way into the woods around Wales, Scotland and England, during the 1990s.
This fairly secretive creature can be aggressive if approached especially if a sow is nursing her young. The main problem facing this creature is that it's rather tasty.
Since Britain started farming more boar, it's not uncommon to find the beast on restaurant menus or on supermarket shelves or - in the case of one Gloucestershire town - to find a wild boar strolling down the aisles at the Co-op. There are fears there'll be a glut of boar meat and the Food Standards Agency is preparing advice on how to handle the meat and how to prepare it.
Okay, this might be too much information, but after watching all the porkers run through the woods, can you imagine what your yard would look like with just a few of these leavings?
Yeah, I'm suddenly happy with a few squirrels!
Pictures from Wikipedia