Pigging it out in Barcelona
July 30, 2019 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Wild boars are moving into Barcelona -- and other cities.

From the main article:
Across much of the world, the wild boar population has exploded since the 1980s, coinciding with the arrival of warmer winters, the improved crop yields of industrialised farming and the declining number of predators, including hunters. (Hunters grumble that millennials and property developers are killing their sport.) The boar’s adaptability and high intelligence make them one of the most prolific large mammals on Earth. “The wild hog,” observed The New Yorker writer Ian Frazier, “is an infestation machine.”
...
Swine, or sus scrofa, have confounded humans for millennia, since pigs were domesticated 9,000 years ago. Keeping pigs penned in is not always easy, and the ones that escape adapt to the wild in a matter of months. They don’t just change their habitat, but also behaviour and appearance in subsequent generations. They grow a coat of coarse hair. Their tails straighten. Tusks lengthen. They become super-adapters, shape-shifting problem solvers with speed and agility. “Wild pigs can run up to 30 mph. They can jump over fences less than 3ft high and have ‘climbed’ out of pig traps with walls 5 to 6ft high,” writes Billy Higginbotham, a wildlife conservation expert at Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
The boars are all over the place, in Japan, in California, in Texas, it goes on and on.
And it's becoming an even bigger problem because of the African Swine Fever, which is disrupting hog production all over Africa, Asia and Europe. The disease was first described after European settlers brought pigs into areas endemic with ASFV and, as such, is an example of an 'emerging infectious disease'. (wiki link)
Previously: We are the last of the Wardens, the sole hope for the earth.
posted by mumimor (48 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 


The encounters between Barcelonan and beast are numerous, peaking in 2016 when police logged 1,187 phone calls about nuisance boars on the loose – wild hogs rooting up turf, munching trash, attacking dogs, plundering cat-feeders, holding up traffic and running into cars. For the past decade, Barcelona has been desperately searching for a way to keep the boar from colonising the leafy neighbourhoods – some home to footballers, bankers and celebrities – that back up against Collserola. The low point came in 2013 when a policeman shot at a boar with his service revolver, but hit and maimed his partner instead.

Direct Action
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:34 PM on July 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


They're native here and I like them. The government wants to wipe them out. Of course, it's always a good idea to wipe out a major native species. Nothing could go wrong.
posted by pracowity at 1:44 PM on July 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


Now I have the Duran Duran song in my head.

Wait, that's "Wild Boys". Shit.
posted by notsnot at 1:58 PM on July 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'm going to say -- they're a big game species and have been for centuries. Medieval and classical sources have lots of boar hunting stories, and it sounds like boar hunting is still a thing.

Why not just let people hunt them and eat them? They're apparently tasty, and it's not like they're going to go extinct...

I'm sure there's lots of good reasons why that's not viable and that people will tell me what they are, but 'let the hunters have a field day' seems like the simplest solution.
posted by jrochest at 2:04 PM on July 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


People are allowed to hunt them and eat them, but the hogs are still coming out ahead.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 2:05 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Why not just let people hunt them and eat them? They're apparently tasty, and it's not like they're going to go extinct

wrt the ones in the article: they appear to be largely riddled with horrifying diseases.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:06 PM on July 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm sure there's lots of good reasons why that's not viable and that people will tell me what they are, but 'let the hunters have a field day' seems like the simplest solution.

It s more that there aren t enough hunters. In Louisiana, boars root up our earthen seawalls and our coastal forests. The sheriff's departments will deputise you to kill them and leave them. We have a lot of hunters per capita, too, as well as myriad, delicious ways we cook pork, and we still can't control them.

Kudos to Sus scrofa, that s all. Smart animal.
posted by eustatic at 2:12 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how this has become a problem. Thems good eating. What fucking good is capitalism if it can't even turn invasive wild boar into inexpensive sausages?

If you live where this is a problem, I implore you, start an extermination business and send me sausage.

(I mean I read the main article, I assume it's because so many of them have diseases it's not actually cost-effective to figure out which ones are edible at the rate they can reasonably hunted, and because pig farmers don't want the competition of affordable wild meat. A boy can dream of inexpensive wild boar sausage though, can't he?)

We need a proper sausage emoji. Hot dogs are not the same.

Sausage.

posted by Caduceus at 2:14 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I mean, if we got rid of CAFOs, whose industrial scale waste is vulnerable to climate rains, and likely to shit up our water, there would be more pressure to hunt the ferals. Bit we d have to give up cheap pork, and I don't see American s going that way.
posted by eustatic at 2:14 PM on July 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm 36. It may be time to stop referring to myself as a boy even casually, colloquially, and in parentheses.
posted by Caduceus at 2:20 PM on July 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


Hunting feral hogs incentivizes releasing hogs to become feral. It's a big enough issue that at least one state, Missouri, has banned the hunting of feral hogs on state land. Real eradication comes from trapping, and hunting interferes with large-scale trapping programs.
posted by ryanrs at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


Why not just let people hunt them and eat them? They're apparently tasty,

I am told that the adult ones can be unbearably gamey. And many hunters these days are in the "set up a corn feeder and wait in a deer blind" school, so hunting a smart and dangerous large animal, that may not taste all that great, is not a huge enough draw.

(by the way, feral pigs love the SHIT out of those corn feeders; but they are smart enough to figure out how to clean them out when humans aren't there. Also see: big, sharp tusks, scary, smart, will definitely kill and eat you if they get the chance.)
posted by emjaybee at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm in the SF Bay Area, queue the "Wild Foraged Hog Bacon" food truck in 3, 2, 1 ...
posted by codewheeney at 2:34 PM on July 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Startles me how much they resemble that shark horse thing that was going around a while back.
posted by jamjam at 2:35 PM on July 30, 2019


These Romans are CRAZY... (toc toc toc). Have a swig of your potion, Asterix....
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:37 PM on July 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


This is a bigger problem for everybody, everywhere, especially in croplands. Boar will decimate most crops it can root up gleefully.
One of our ag researches is excited for this type of trap: Introducing BoarBuster: A Better Hog Trapping System | Feral Hog Trap. It lures them in such a way that it's impossible for them to escape, and it's sturdy enough that the exterminators don't have to worry about an angry boar flailing around in a net.
posted by boo_radley at 2:49 PM on July 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


I'm in the SF Bay Area, queue the "Wild Foraged Hog Bacon" food truck in 3, 2, 1 ...

Can't sell meat from sport hunting. This is why you never see truly wild animals on grocery shelves. Fancy supermarkets would sell sport-hunted deer and duck in season if they could.

(But if you live trap pigs and take them to a licensed slaughterhouse, then they can enter the commercial meat supply chain, I think.)
posted by ryanrs at 2:49 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Introduce leopards.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:52 PM on July 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


I like how many here jumped straight to eat them. I thought of putting suggestions and recipes in the post, but it seemed a little flippant. Since I was on an Iron Age reenactment camp when I was 9, I've loved everything about wild boar, not least the taste. In the wild, they are very dangerous to hunt, and only the young taste good, though you can feed the older ones to the dogs you absolutely need for hunting them. I still think eating them is a great idea. Forbid industrial hog farms and eat the wild ones until there is a balance instead (along with some sustainably farmed ones).
I'm just guessing, but I imagine the problem with urban hogs is the same as with urban fowl: they eat a lot of really disgusting stuff and become infected with everything humans pollute their cities with.

Here's a recipe from Food52. I haven't tried it, but it looks about right.
posted by mumimor at 2:52 PM on July 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


and oh yeah, wild boar meat is not just bad flavor-wise, but there's also a greater risk of disease and parasites: brucellosis, trichinosis, and others await unless you cook your meat to 160 degrees or better.
posted by boo_radley at 2:56 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


coinciding with ... the declining number of predators, including hunters. (Hunters grumble that millennials and property developers are killing their sport.)

To the best of my knowledge, much of the spread of wild pigs in the US is due to their popularity as a game animal. In the 1990s, wild pigs became suddenly popular as big game, a trend attributed to the Internet and to hunting shows on cable/satellite TV. This (allegedly) motivated some people to drive long distances, trap wild pigs, drive back home, and re-release the pigs in local hunting spots. According to an apparently wealthy and religious co-owner of the entire island of Niihau, they have even possibly been transported into Hawaii.

(For real, click that link: It's a letter to the editor. It has the most "here's the introduction to my 19th-Century epistolary novel" opening lines ever.)

Wildlife biologists call the recent explosion in wild pig populations "The Pig Bomb." It is a good phrase to know and I encourage its use.

Source: I was attacked by a wild pig and have since spent a non-zero amount of free time watching wild-pig-related webinars
posted by compartment at 3:07 PM on July 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


Anecdote Filter: In La Pampa, in Argentina, the switch from grass fed cattle ranching to growing soy beans and corn has resulted in a huge increase in the boar (jabali) population. They are HUGE animals when you see one (or often more) running through a field, hopefully from a pick-up truck. Until a few years ago, I would wander through farm fields and patches of dense brush without a care in the world - the only dangerous large animal was a VERY rare puma that would more than likely slink away before one even saw it. Now, I keep very sharp eyes and ears open. I often carry an old .22 rifle, for the odd hare or pigeon for the pot, but that would just annoy a boar. And the downside of La Pampa is that there aren't many trees to get up if you do cross paths. I honestly don't know what I would do if I was confronted by one at close range...scream and shout? I know they can run a hell of a lot faster than me.
They're also incredibly destructive - they can tear up acres of corn in one night. Some local guys hunt them with bigger caliber guns than I have, but it can't even make a dent in the population.
posted by conifer at 3:07 PM on July 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


Back when they were more numerous, I herded them (they looked like these specimens) up our street (shoo!) and back into the woods to keep them from being hurt or killed by the lawn protection society. Now, though, I never see them in these parts.
posted by pracowity at 3:17 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Hunting feral hogs incentivizes releasing hogs to become feral. It's a big enough issue that at least one state, Missouri, has banned the hunting of feral hogs on state land. Real eradication comes from trapping, and hunting interferes with large-scale trapping programs.

That's quite different from most of the stuff I've read about them. My impression is that the vast majority of wild hogs come from natural breeding, not from farm pigs being released. They are such a problem, that most states have no seasons and no limits on hunting them. On private land, you don't even need a hunting license to go after them.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:24 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting problem from a hunting perspective (for me, anyway). The hunter safety course spends more than half of the time talking about ethics, and one topic we specifically spent a lot of time on was - if an animal is considered a pest (snow geese in our example), is it ethical to hunt them with no intention of utilizing the animal? The class was pretty split, but one of the instructors made a compelling argument about hunting being one of the last methods of population control and how without it your end up with day worse consequences to habitat and the animal itself (overpopulated animals don't live terribly healthy or happy lives).

Personally, I would be interested in trying to take some hogs - I'm capable of butchering and cooking them. I'm still working through my thoughts about extensive travel for the purposes of hunting, as one of the reasons I started learning about it was to acquire local food. We don't have hogs near me, so it would require a fairly expensive trip just for this purpose which I don't think I can justify. Better to take the turkeys that are terrorizing my more immediate neighbors.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:33 PM on July 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


Leopards would be great, but Jaguars are native to Texas (last seen in 1940).
posted by jamjam at 3:56 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately I have zero hunting or butchering experience, but I'd be happy to buy a sub-100# hog from someone who's shot and broken it down into prime cuts. I'm also game (har) to try hunting and butchering it myself if someone's willing to take me under their wing.

I'm sure some of my friends would be happy to help me eat it...
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:58 PM on July 30, 2019


Jaguars are native to Texas

Pumas in the crevasses!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:04 PM on July 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


The video posted above about the development of the drop trap is really interesting.

If feral pigs were near here, I would definitely hunt them. But as people have said, there isn't nearly enough hunting pressure to put any limitations on the populations.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:29 PM on July 30, 2019


There's the issue of people shooting at things in populated areas, too.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:33 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


But you should really eat them! The old ones give them a bad rep, it is much better to shoot them when they are young for all reasons. Wild boar is delicious, lean and a great combination of pork taste and game taste, and you get it a lot in Europe. Unfortunately not here in Denmark, the land of the pigs. Everything here is ruled by the pork industry, and there is no negotiation. But our neighbors Sweden and Germany have delicious wild hog. It gets better the further south you go.

Hunting them in urban or even suburban areas is not an option, so there you'll need to do something else.
posted by mumimor at 5:39 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Well, this is timely. About two weeks ago o found this boar's jaw on my property in the Great Smoky Mountains (TN). Didnt find any other part of him.
posted by workerant at 5:44 PM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'd be happy to buy a sub-100# hog from someone who's shot and broken it down into prime cuts.

Me too, but not legal in the U.S. You need to shoot it yourself or receive it as a genuine gift (no money/bartering).

The main reason I got into hunting is so I can eat strange, forbidden meats that I can't buy in a store.
posted by ryanrs at 5:45 PM on July 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


They are actually right up into Austin proper--my friend, who already puts up with the feral peacocks in her neighborhood happily enough, absolutely put her foot down when she had a feral sow and her brood moved in on the neighborhood. By which I mean she hid in her house until they left because what the actual fuck?

Urban evolution is a wondrous thing, but especially in the cities and suburbia there needs to be a harassment program for public safety. Pigs are smart, and I do not want to consider the ramifications of feral pigs getting that close to people.
posted by sciatrix at 6:23 PM on July 30, 2019


Sounds like a good recipe for a plague. Cities and large numbers of the species that commonly share infection vectors with humans are not a good mix. Given the antibiotic situation, it would probably make sense to spend more effort on the issue.

Not that it pleases me by any means. I actually like the feral chickens that roost around here. They aren't the most effective insect control, but they're pretty good at keeping them from literally overrunning everything as they would otherwise in this just short of tropical climate. Also, they're just plain funny.

Still, it wouldn't take much of an increase in their numbers to make them a very real disease risk, so I wouldn't be that sad if the city started collecting roosters again. It can become a major public health issue, well beyond even uncontrolled Zika in terms of mortality risk.

Unfortunately, in this day and age policy nuance like aggressively controlling animal population in cities while continuing to increase protections for animals and their habitats outside of cities so that ecosystems are maintained seems to be somewhere between difficult and impossible with public discourse in the state it is at present.
posted by wierdo at 6:58 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


You need to shoot it yourself or receive it as a genuine gift (no money/bartering).

Thanks for the info, ryanrs. Guess I'll have to see if my former-coworker acquaintance who's a hunter would be up for taking me under his wing.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:06 PM on July 30, 2019


If you’re interested, you should definitely look in to taking a basic hunter education course offered by your state’s conservation/fish and wildlife department. Most states require you to take that before being issued a hunting license. It’s a small commitment - maybe 10-12 hours - but at least in my area there was an option to do some of it online. Part of the course is about safety and the law, but like I said before the a huge portion of the course is about ethics and how to give “fair chase.”
posted by backseatpilot at 8:07 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


In Michigan, you can hunt deer in urban areas with a bow or crossbow. Would an arrow have enough stopping power for wild boar?
posted by rocket at 8:28 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Huh, interesting:
For Tomberlin, the experiment has highlighted the environmental impact of culling feral pigs. The pigs are invasive species themselves, and they do considerable damage, but the paradox, Tomberlin says, is that killing them on a large scale may actually promote the spread of other invasive species.

“Invasives tend to like environments that are unstable,” he explains, “and if you create this environment that's quite chaotic, you could be creating opportunities for them to have a foothold.”
That quote is from a story about an experiment on simulated mass animal mortality (CW: photos and video of said experiment). "The plan was to place varying amounts of pig corpses in a series of 20-meter-square plots, and to collect before-and-after data on everything from soil chemistry and microbes to vultures and coyotes."
posted by compartment at 8:43 PM on July 30, 2019


rocket: "In Michigan, you can hunt deer in urban areas with a bow or crossbow. Would an arrow have enough stopping power for wild boar?"

Apparently yes.

posted by Chrysostom at 9:56 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


There is a (smallish) population of wild boar in woodlands in southern England, released accidentally and deliberately, but they don't seem to be a major problem at present. There isn't much restriction on selling on the meat by hunters, and they are pretty delicious - my local butcher makes very good wild boar sausages. My understanding is that meat from uncastrated male pigs (and presumably wild boar) is inedible due to something called (I kid you not) boar taint, so presumably some of the meat can't be used.

Now, having lived in East Sussex, I am wondering how the feral wild boars get on with the feral wallabies there.
posted by Fuchsoid at 11:21 PM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Next stop: Packs of hyperintelligent pigoons holding grudges and stalking the surviving humans for garden vegetables and meat.
posted by cnidaria at 2:24 AM on July 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


Why not just let people hunt them and eat them? They're apparently tasty, and it's not like they're going to go extinct

Not only this - but nobody understands how to turn pigs into tasty morsels like the Catalans and Spanish. But the problem may be to do with the economics: first of all you need to get hold of the guns, ammunition etc that you need - and a vehicle. You then needs plenty of time - because wild boar may be numerous but they are also wily. When you do catch one you need butchering equipment and marketing channels too - but bear in mind that the meat can be tough and gamy and variable in quality (lets not even mention the diseases cited in the article). Given all of this is can be very hard to compete with those who are selling farmed pigs - especially of the quality we see in Spain.
posted by rongorongo at 3:33 AM on July 31, 2019


Before y’all get too excited about hunting these, remember what happened to Robert Baratheon.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:52 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Y'all talking about eating these critters, did you even RTFA? These are nasty disease vectors, not DINNER.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:03 PM on July 31, 2019


But practicing safe field dressing techniques and cooking the meat to at least 160° (CDC, PDF) should keep one safe. (My favorite safety regimen when cooking any pork, including domestic, is a long slow smoke up to an internal temp of ~180° and the meat is juicy and falling-off-the-bone tender)
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:25 PM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


According to an apparently wealthy and religious co-owner of the entire island of Niihau, they have even possibly been transported into Hawaii.

(For real, click that link: It's a letter to the editor. It has the most "here's the introduction to my 19th-Century epistolary novel" opening lines ever.)


Compartment, that letter is truly a beautiful thing. Without irony, I very much enjoyed reading it. If this person has written a book, I think I'd read that, too, regardless of subject matter.
posted by tllaya at 12:59 PM on August 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


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