Managing wild boar

The Sustainable Hunting Parliamentary Intergroup organised a meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the “demographic explosion” of wild boar populations in Europe on 4 July. Delphine Dupeux from the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) presented a compilation report on the situation in a number of countries on the likely causes of these population increases and on the possible measures to neutralise or at least mitigate their effects and impacts. Delphine focused on the question of ‘artificial’ feeding – by hunters – of wild boar (a practice more or less strictly regulated, or even prohibited, in a number of countries). Studies clearly indicate however that such feeding is not playing a significant role in increasing wild boar numbers: a complete ban would not solve the problem. 

In his presentation, FACE’s Yves Lecocq identified climate change and its consequences for ecosystems and human activities (in particular farming) as the main cause for this “population explosion” of a very adaptable wild species  – a phenomenon which started already back in the seventies and is anyway not restricted to Europe. Yves further listed the sometimes disastrous consequences of high wild boar numbers: considerable damage to crops, higher risks for traffic collisions, serious safety problems near and inside urban areas,  transmission of diseases to domestic animals as well as to people and, last but not least, a negative impact on biodiversity (e.g. ground-breeding birds). The situation being highly complex, he warned against simplistic or ideological solutions or a standardised European strategy.

The only realistic way forward is to encourage and motivate hunters to increase their wild boar harvest. This requires a suitable legal framework to enable hunters to do this, without unreasonable restrictions (such as too short seasons or other hunting bans). For FACE, it is clear that hunters need to recognise their responsibility – and they are more than willing to do so – and other sectors of society (farmers, local authorities, the conservation movement…) should do likewise.

These ideas were confirmed by Benoit Guibert from the French Hunters’ Federation FNC; who presented the situation in his country.

Intergroup President Véronique Mathieu and other participating MEPs supported these conclusions and promised to follow up this topic closely, and to explore how the EU could contribute to solving the problem (e.g. through an EU-wide public campaign to promote consumption of wild boar meat).