Tourist warning as wild boar invade European cities – ‘could be dangerous’

Shoppers flee as wild boar goes on a supermarket rampage

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Brazen boar and piglets have been spotted trotting beside people in Rome, roaming the streets of Marbella and on bin-raiding missions in Barcelona. Wild boar expert and Senior Ecology lecturer at Worcester University, Dr John Dutton spoke to about the animals and any potential tourist dangers.

Dr Dutton told “What we have to remember is they are very intelligent animals, at least as intelligent as adult dogs if not more so.

“They will work out where food is and that sort of stuff and there isn’t much that will predate (eat) them.

“They’re probably coming partly because of population increase and partly because we’re getting drier summers so there is less food available.

“Milder winters mean they’re not suffering as much winter mortality and then their population increases so there’s a space issue and they start to look for food elsewhere.”

While Shakira escaped her run in with a wild boar, Dr Dutton told being charged by one of the hogs could be very dangerous.

He said: “If you were charged by a wild boar, you could be in trouble. Being charged by a boar can be dangerous because they have tusks and they can do some damage.

“If you don’t surprise them or approach them then you will probably be ok. When you surprise them and you’re in between them and their exit route, there could be a problem especially if there are hoglets.

“One of the biggest issues is probably boar-vehicle collisions. If a tourist is driving a hire car or is in a taxi which is in a collision with a wild boar it could be dangerous.”

He added: “A boar is about the size of a Labrador dog but far more solid and could do significant damage to a car and to you if you’re not wearing a seatbelt. They’re far more solid than deer.”

In the UK, the Forest of Dean is home to one of Britain’s few wild boar populations which the Woodland Trust says was first formed of escaped or illegally released animals.

Dr Dutton said: “Once I was doing some research in the Forest of Dean and we were driving down a forest track at night and a boar literally burst out of the vegetation next to us.

“That can happen on roads as well with no warning. When the vegetation is quite close to the road and you’re going fast, you might not see them.”

While boars have been known to steal phones and once even stole a laptop from a German nudist, Dr Du says their motivation to go for tourists’ bags is most likely to find food.

He told “It’s like in our seaside towns where we have seagulls. People will feed wildlife because they think they’re being helpful.

“It’s not helpful because then wildlife becomes habituated and they’ll hang around where food is.

“If a boar came up to me and tried to take my backpack to steal food, I’d certainly be letting them have it.

“That’s an issue that tourists need to be aware of. Just like the apes on Gibraltar who have a bad reputation for stealing tourist bags for food and I think that boars are rather more intelligent than apes.”

While it’s unlikely that a tourist could end up in a confrontation with a wild boar in a touristic city, Dr Dutton says it’s best to stay calm if that happens.

He said: “Boars often look aggressive but actually they just have incredibly poor eyesight and they’re looking at you thinking what the bloody hell is that?

“I’ve certainly stood in front of them, and they’ve been moving their head from side to side, looking at you, they’re not aggressive, they’re thinking what is that strange thing?”

Wild boar issues in Rome have recently become an hotly debated issue in local elections as politicians tried to blame each other for the beasts’ invasion.

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