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Wild boars – the controversies

MidiLibre/Scoop, Mar 9

From the Cévennes to the coast, the wild boar is the sworn enemy of many.

They destroy gardens, ancestral dry stone walls, vineyards, fields of crops. Tensions run high.

The village of Saint-Martin-de-Boubaux in Lozère has 180 inhabitants. Over 500 wild boars were killed there last hunting season, which finished late February. There, as elsewhere, on the outskirts of Nimes and Montpellier, the boar has been there for four decades.

Saint-Martin-de-Boubaux has a nice nickname: the little Corsican. "It lies in the character of the people, who do not speak much and who like to resolve their own problems," said one villager. Suffice to say that guns are out, even out of season, when a boar ventures too close to a house. This is how farmers and individuals try to protect their fields and gardens.

The beasts are still ravaging the fields, and the compensations are not at all adequate. The compensation covers raw material only. As for destroyed fields, it takes weeks to repair.

“Half a hectare can be devastated overnight” said one villager.

The boars were introduced seventy years ago. At the time, they were held in esteem, but forty years later, the red carpet was shredded.

The mushroom collectors are not happy either – they are destroying all the spores, and consequently the harvest is tiny compared to the past.

Rural de-population and land abandonment has left the boar in sole command.

The wild sows, well nourished, can have three litters in two years and up to a dozen piglets each time.

Some blame the cross breeding between pigs and wild boars... a point that the president of the Lozère Hunting Federation denies.

One certainty, in any event, is that the wild boar population is increasing, and the number of hunters is declining.

The damage that the boars do, has an impact on the Cévennes landscape: more and more properties are fenced off. "Tourists and expatriates, returning there for the holidays do not understand why we put have barriers up - before they walked from one area to another, now everything is closed," explains Josette Crausaz.

She had, like many others, solved the problem with electric fences, to avoid the relentless demolition. "But I do not have too much energy left – it’s a monstrous job, you have to constantly cut the grass growing underneath to allow the current to work," she says. Her husband Philippe spends much of his time doing this.

Boars "push the tiles out of the way," says Jean-Pierre Bouvier, a resident of Saint-Martin-de-Boubaux. “stone by stone, they destroy the centuries-old walls.” “I love this country, that's why it infuriates me that things are irreparably destroyed," agrees his wife Henriette.

"Most hunters do not live in St. Martin.” Those who come from Alès are not aware of our problems, or do not care. It's not about them. they do not have gardens, they have not made these walls."

Long gone are the days when Henriette Bouvier thought it was funny. When “a boar had appeared in the garden, ploughing between vegetables, it was funny." That was the time when the couple had returned from Morocco, 35 years ago. Now they are tired.

National studies

The national office of hunting and wildlife (ONCFS) advocate a hypothesis to justify the fact that the wild sows have more litters. "The combination of a healthy interest in hunting, and abundant food resources would create a proliferation of wild boar; it’s their defence for self-preservation.”

Compensation of €520,000

The hunters assume that the compensation is given to farmers.

For the 2014-2015 season, the compensation claim was €320,000 for Gard and €200,000 for the Hérault.

Many farmers don’t claim, and the ones who do, say that it doesn’t adequately cover the time and money needed to put things right.

[In short, this is getting out of hand. To say nothing of the destruction shown in the above article, we’ve reported many incidents of aged hunters shooting at anything that moves, even killing their own family members. We’ve also reported shocking incidents of hunters either side of popular walking paths, trying to guide the boar into the path in order to shoot it. God help any walkers who may be in the way.

It’s wonderful to have wild boar in the area, but the fact that they are being encouraged to breed, just to be hunted and shot at, is frankly “pas tres Catholique” as our country neighbour often says – Ed.]