Booming populations of wild boars, some of which are radioactive, are menacing major cities like Hong Kong and Barcelona

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A wild boar is seen at a residential area. Toru Hanai / Reuters
  • 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 $US1 billion of damage every year.
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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, in 2013 there were thought to be 5 million wild boars running loose, and they’re responsible for more than $US1 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 in July 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 22 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.

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Wild boar. AFP Gregor Fischer

Source: The Guardian


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

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Wild boars, search for food near Esterel, Southern France. Nice Matin / AP

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.

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Wild boar in trash. Wikimedia

Source: The Guardian


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

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A stuffed boar in Berlin. Thomas Peter / Reuters

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.

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Wild boars stroll at a forest near Munich. Matthias Schrader / AP

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.

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A wild boar is seen in an evacuation zone near the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture in 2017. Toru Hanai / Reuters

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.

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police holds up his riot equipment during a protest against the eviction of social squatters from the building in Barcelona, Spain, Manu Fernandez / AP

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.

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Wild boar are seen near houses in Lomianki county on Warsaw outskirts in 2018. Czarek Sokolowski / AP

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.

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A wild boar family walking along the Baltic sea coast in Gdynia, northern Poland. Czarek Sokolowski / AP

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.

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People protest against wild boar hunting in Warsaw, Poland, January 9, 2019. Adam Stepien / Agencja Gazeta / Reuters

Source: BBC


In early 2010, a 42-mile 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 $US4.6 billion industry that it doesn’t want contaminated.

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Workers set up a wild boar fence along the Danish-German border in Padborg, Denmark January 28, 2019. Ritzau Scanpix / Frank Cilius / Reuters

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.

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Wild boars are put on sale at a market in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province in 2003. China / Reuters

Source: The Economist


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

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A wild boar scavenges for food while local residents watch at a Country Park in Hong Kong. Vincent Yu / AP

Source: CNN


Wild boars run up to 30 miles 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.

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Local residents take a photo in front of a wild boar at a Country Park in Hong Kong. Vincent Yu / AP

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.

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A wild boar scavenges for food while local residents watch at a Country Park in Hong Kong. Vincent Yu / AP

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.

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A wild boar searches for food in the Margallah Hills of Islamabad, Pakistan. B. K. Bangash / AP

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.

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People hunt a stray wild boar in Pakistan. Shakil Adil / AP

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 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.

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A family of wild boars near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas. Lee Jin-man / AP

Source: The Seoul Times


In September, Malaysia was dealing with an onslaught of wild boars thought to be swimming miles through the sea from Indonesia to Pulau Besar Island. It’s almost 10 miles off the Malaysian coast, and fisherman are sure they have seen snouts in the water at night. Once the boars reached the island they have been destroying crops, and locals are concerned that on Pulau Besar the boars might soon outnumber the human inhabitants.

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Wild boar swims. Sylvain Cordier / Gamma-Rapho / Getty

Source: The Guardian


In the US, wild boars cause more than $US1.5 billion damage every year, and between 1982 and 2012 they spread from 17 states to 36.

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A wild boar is seen on a truck. Sukree Sukplang / Reuters

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune


In 2017, Louisiana’s 700,000 wild boars cost the state $US76 million. 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.

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A wild boar walks in a swamp, in Slidell, Louisiana. Rebecca Santana / AP

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.

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Wild boar sausage to be smoked hangs on racks at the Springfield Slaughterhouse in Louisiana. Gerald Herbert / AP

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune