Spain’s Wild Boar Problem: Humane Methods Or Culling?

Opinion Divided On Wild Boar Solution

Image of baby wild boar. Credit: Sander van der Wel/Creative Commons Atribution-Share Alike 2.0

IN Spain there seems to be more and more reports of wild boar becoming a nuisance in urban areas, from rummaging through bins to causing serious accidents on the highway.

The latest figures show that Spain’s wild boar population in the provinces of Huesca and Girona, both located in the Pyrenean territories, have seemingly hit their wild boar population peak, writes Pig333.

In contrast, regions like Barcelona, Valencia, and Alicante are experiencing high growth rates, indicating their spread.

The majority of other provinces fall into a category of relatively low population increase but with a potential for growth in the future.

Wild Boar Risks

Reportedly the problem was exacerbated during the Covid lockdown where due the the absence of people on the streets more wild boar strayed into urban areas. In 2021 there were 1,200 incidents involving wild boars in Barcelona alone.

This year there have been news reports of wild boar invading popular tourist spots, causing mayhem on beaches. While not a new problem, the frequency of these instances seems to be on the rise.

There are also regular reports of wild boar as the root cause of road collisions, some of them fatal for drivers who were caught out unexpectedly. Again this is nothing new in itself, but something that is becoming a worrying trend.

Aside from these issues, there is the little-publicised problem of disease. The growing wild pig population poses significant concerns due to the species’ association with diseases, notably African swine fever (ASF). While not a danger to humans ASF has the potential to devastate the domestic pig population, a cause for concern among livestock farmers and the Spanish economy.

Is Culling The Answer?

Wild boar do not have any natural predators, apart from wolves in the northern areas of Spain, which leads many to suggest culling particularly in Spain’s south.

Culling is the act of selectively killing animals, typically to control their population or to contain the spread of disease. Culling has been one of the primary methods used in Spain. It’s often done by professional hunters or by local authorities.

Those in favour highlight that hunting wild boar is a centuries-old practise in many parts of Spain, so many people view culling simply as a continuation of this tradition.

Alternative Solutions

While some see culling as the way forward, there is also a segment of the population concerned about safety, both in terms of boar-human interactions and the methods used for culling, which often involve firearms in relatively populated areas.

Other advocate more humane methods such as fencing or spraying chemicals that repel wild boar by imitating the smell of wolf urine. Another option is relocation, but due to their independence on scavenging, some argue that they would not survive back in the wild.

This sterilisation method has been considered in some regions. The idea is to capture and sterilise a certain number of boars to control their reproduction rate.

Regarding the nuisance factor, authorities have tried to educate the public, usually tourists, about not feeding the boars and securing trash bins to make urban areas less attractive to these animals.

As the wild boar population continues to grow, public sentiment and potential solutions will play a crucial role in shaping Spain’s approach to this issue.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Anne Sewell

      24 October 2023 • 16:14

      The wild boar now come into La Cala regularly, including the beachfront gardens. Apparently, one of the main reasons is the drought, but the other is the continuation of putting up new villas and apartment blocks spreading back from the town. They have no other way to get food than to enter towns where the grass is watered. However, culling is NOT the answer. That is sheer brutality.

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