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Growing numbers of wild boars, some of which are radioactive, are menacing major cities across the world

James Pasley , Business Insider US
 Nov 17, 2019, 08:07 AM
  • Since the 1980s, wild boar numbers have exploded across the world.
  • They are carriers of swine flu, and prompted the building of a 42-mile wall between Denmark and Germany in 2019.
  • In parts of Germany and in Japan, wild boars running around are contaminated with nuclear radiation.
  • In the US, they're thought to be responsible for more than $1 billion (roughly R14.7 billion) of damage every year.
  • For more stories go to

Wild boars are thriving across the world.

On July 30, The Guardian published an article called "Boar Wars: how wild hogs are trashing European cities" highlighting the issue.

Since the 1980s, warmer temperatures, more food, and fewer predators have meant their numbers have exploded. In cities in Europe, China, Pakistan, and the US, their presence is becoming more common - and more of a nuisance.

In the US, they're thought to be responsible for more than $1 billion (roughly R14.7 billion) of damage every year.

Growing numbers prompted the building of a wall between Denmark and Germany to secure Denmark's billion-dollar pork industry. In Poland, they caused hundreds of thousands to demonstrate after the government was thought to be embarking on a massive cull.

Some wild boar, in parts of Germany near Russia and in Japan, are contaminated with nuclear radiation.

Wild boars got a lot of attention this week with a viral tweet that said: "Legit question for rural Americans - How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?"

The Washington Post noted that the boars, also known as hogs, are "resilient in the face of helicopter assaults, threats of mass poisoning and elaborate traps."

Here are 21 photos showing how boars are taking over the world.

Wild boars, or the Eurasian wild pig, are on every continent except Antarctica. In Europe, there are now more than 10 million boars running wild. Their numbers have boomed since the 1980s due to three things: warmer climates, improved agriculture, and declining predators.

Source: The Guardian

According to experts, if a boar population falls by 90%, it can still recover within three years.

Source: The Washington Post

Wild boar thrive on trash. High-calorie diets, like human rubbish, or corn and cereal crops, are causing them to have more piglets, and more often.

Source: The Guardian

In Berlin, the city is paying hunters to kill any wild boar seen within the city limits. While they've eradicated thousands, around 3,000 are still living in parks and green areas.

Source: The Guardian

In other parts of Germany, hunted boar have shown excessive levels of radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in Ukraine. As recently as 2014, one in three had radiation levels higher than was fit for human consumption. They're thought to be particularly susceptible because they eat mushrooms and root through soil that has stored the radiation.

Source: The Telegraph

And in Japan's Fukushima prefecture, where no one has lived since 2011's nuclear meltdown, wild boars have flourished. Between 2010 and 2012, the number hunted rose from 3,000 to 13,000. The average weight of a male hog was 200 pounds, and since they couldn't be eaten, hunters faced the conundrum of dealing with millions of pounds of radioactive flesh.

Source: The Washington Post

In Barcelona, to stem boar numbers, wildlife management is ignoring males and targeting female boars and their young. They also go along with police at night, in case they're needed to put boars down. And it's working — clashes between boars and people in the city are falling.

Source: The Guardian

In Poland, the number of wild boars are thought to be between 200,000 and 500,000. In 2014, the African Swine Fever was detected in more than 3,000 boars across Poland. There is no vaccine for the virus.

Sources: BBC, The Guardian

In 2018, it was widely thought that the government planned to slaughter 210,000 boars to stop the virus from spreading. From 2016 to 2018, it is estimated that almost 600,000 boars were already killed.

Sources: BBC, The Guardian

But 350,000 people signed a petition and 800 academics sent a letter, demanding the culling be stopped. In response, the environment minister denied any order was ever given.

Source: BBC

In early 2010, a 42-mile (67 km) fence was erected between Denmark and Germany to stop the deluge of wild boars crossing the border. Denmark has 6 million people and 12 million pigs, and it's a $4.6 billion (roughly R67.6 billion) industry that it doesn't want contaminated.

Sources: The Guardian, BBC

In the last year in China, the world's largest pork producer, more than one million pigs were culled because of the virus, and it's now in every province. Up to 200 million more could be slaughtered or die from the disease, by the end of the year.

Source: The Economist

In Hong Kong, boar sighting and nuisance reports rose from 294 to 738 between 2013 and 2017. They've been roaming in the financial district, the international airport, and a shopping mall.

Source: CNN

Wild boars run up to 30 miles (roughly 48km) per hour and can leap over three-feet-high fences. One of the reasons they're thriving in Hong Kong is that people are feeding them.

Source: The Guardian, CNN

Hong Kong's urban area has also expanded into the boar's habitat. And around 40% of the city's territory is either park or nature reserve, which is where the boars are thought to live.

Source: CNN

In Pakistan, wild boars descend on Islamabad, the capital, every winter. It's perfect for boars since the city is surrounded by wooded ravines and was formerly forest. In a study of boar's stomachs found in the area, nearly 60% of the contents were garbage.

In 2012, a wild boar attacked a police officer, resulting in eight stitches. The station chief said it was "like a terrorist." Another managed to break into the tightly guarded president's palace. Here, people hunt a boar down in the streets.

Source: Desert News

In South Korea, wild boars have flourished due to the loss of predators like tigers, leopards, and wolves. Notably, in 2006, there was a 400-pound (181 km) wild boar that plagued a small island town, killing 20 goats. An 80-year-old man was also killed by a wild boar that same year.

Source: The Seoul Times

In the US, wild boars cause more than $1.5 billion (rougly R22 billion) damage every year, and between 1982 and 2012 they spread from 17 states to 36.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

In 2017, Louisiana's 700,000 wild boars cost the state $76 million (roughly R1.1 billion) . A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries employee called them a "mammalian cockroach." Boar populations are notoriously difficult to stop, and 70% of populations need to be killed each year just to stop them growing.

Sources: The Advocate, The Salt Lake Tribune

But in Louisiana, one business is trying to turn the problem into a gift. Springfield Slaughter House has been butchering boars and turning them into sausages, hams, and shoulders since 2015. Although, one slaughterhouse won't be enough to stem the tide alone.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

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