Wild boar


Wild boar
Wild Boar
Temporal range: Early Pleistocene – Recent
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Genus: Sus
Species: S. scrofa
Binomial name
Sus scrofa
Linnaeus, 1758

Wild boar, also wild pig, (Sus scrofa) is a species of the pig genus Sus, part of the biological family Suidae. The species includes many subspecies. It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises.[2] Wild boar are native across much of Northern and Central Europe, the Mediterranean Region (including North Africa's Atlas Mountains) and much of Asia as far south as Indonesia. Populations have also been artificially introduced in some parts of the world, most notably the Americas and Australasia, principally for hunting. Elsewhere, populations have also become established after escapes of wild boar from captivity.[3]

Contents

Name

The term boar is used to denote an adult male of certain species — including, confusingly, domestic pigs. However, for wild boar, it applies to the whole species, including, for example, "wild boar sow" or "wild boar piglet".[4]

Wild boar are also known by various names, including wild hogs or simply boars. In North America they are more commonly referred to as razorbacks or European boars.[5]

Physical characteristics

The skull of a wild boar found at Lan Lo Au, Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, Hong Kong
Wild boar skeleton

The body of the wild boar is compact; the head is large, the legs relatively short. The fur consists of stiff bristles and usually finer fur. The colour usually varies from dark grey to black or brown, but there are great regional differences in colour; even whitish animals are known from central Asia.[6] During winter the fur is much denser.

Adult boars measure 90–200 cm (35–79 in) in length, not counting a tail of 15–40 cm (5.9–16 in), and have a shoulder height of 55–110 cm (22–43 in).[7][8] As a whole, their average weight is 50–90 kg (110–200 pounds), though boars show a great deal of weight variation within their geographical ranges.[9] In central Italy, their weight usually ranges from 80 to 100 kg (180 to 220 lb) while boars shot in Tuscany have been recorded to weigh up to 150 kg (331 lb). An unusually large French specimen shot in Negremont forest in Ardenne in 1999 weighed 227 kg (550 lb). Carpathian boars have been recorded to reach weights of 200 kg (441 lb). Romanian and Russian boars can reach weights of 300 kg (661 lb), while unconfirmed giants reported in early Russian hunting journals have reportedly weighed up to 320 kg (710 lb).[7][8] Generally speaking, native Eurasian boars follow Bergmann's rule, with smaller boars nearer the tropics and larger, smaller-eared boars in the North of their range. Mature sows from Southeast Asia and southern India may weigh as little as 44 kg (97 lb).[8]

Adult males develop tusks, continuously growing teeth that protrude from the mouth, from their upper and lower canine teeth. These serve as weapons and tools. The upper tusks are bent upwards in males, and are regularly ground against the lower ones to produce sharp edges. The tusks normally measure about 6 cm (2.4 in), in exceptional cases even 12 cm (4.7 in). Females also have sharp canines, but they are smaller, and not protruding like the males' tusks.[10][11]

Wild boar piglets are coloured differently from adults, having marbled chocolate and cream stripes lengthwise over their bodies. The stripes fade by the time the piglet is about 6 months old, when the animal takes on the adult's grizzled grey or brown colour (see photo in Reproduction section to compare adult and juvenile colouring).

Behaviour/social structure

Young wild boar.

Adult males are usually solitary outside of the breeding season, but females and their offspring (both sub-adult males and females) live in groups called sounders. Sounders typically number around 20 animals, although groups of over 50 have been seen, and will consist of 2 to 3 sows; one of which will be the dominant female. Group structure changes with the coming and going of farrowing females, the migration of maturing males (usually when they reach around 20 months) and the arrival of unrelated sexually active males.

Two wild boars in the snow.

Wild boar are situationally crepuscular or nocturnal, foraging in early morning and late afternoon or at night, but resting for periods during both night and day.[1] They are omnivorous scavengers, eating almost anything they come across, including grass, nuts, berries, carrion, roots, tubers, refuse,[12] insects and small reptiles. Wild boar in Australia are also known to be predators of young deer and lambs.[13]

If surprised or cornered, a boar (particularly a sow with her piglets) can and will defend itself and its young with intense vigor.[14] The male lowers its head, charges, and then slashes upward with his tusks. The female, whose tusks are not visible, charges with her head up, mouth wide, and bites. Such attacks are not often fatal to humans, but may result in severe trauma, dismemberment, or blood loss.

Reproduction

Piglets nursing

Sexual activity and testosterone production in males is triggered by decreasing day length, reaching a peak in mid-autumn. The normally solitary males then move into female groups, and rival males fight for dominance, whereupon the largest and most dominant males achieve the most mating.

The age of puberty for sows ranges from 8 to 24 months of age depending on environmental and nutritional factors. Pregnancy lasts approximately 115 days and a sow will leave the group to construct a mound-like nest out of vegetation and dirt, 1–3 days before giving birth (farrowing).

The process of giving birth to a litter lasts between 2 and 3 hours, and the sow and piglets remain in, or close to, the nest for 4–6 days. Sows rejoin the group after 4–5 days, and the piglets will cross suckle between other lactating sows.

Litter size is typically 4–6 piglets but may be smaller for first litter, usually 2–3. The largest litters can be up to 14 piglets. The sex ratio at birth is 1:1. Litter size of wild boars may vary depending on their location. A study in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the US reported a mean litter size of 3.3. A similar study on Santa Catalina Island, California reported a mean litter size of 5.[15] Larger litter sizes have been reported in the Middle East.[1] Piglets weigh 750g – 1000g at birth. Rooting behaviour develops in piglets as early as the first few days of life, and piglets are fully weaned after 3–4 months. They will begin to eat solid foods such as worms and grubs after about 2 weeks.[16]

Range

Reconstructed range

Reconstructed range of wild boar (green) and introduced populations (blue). Not shown are smaller introduced populations in South America, Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.[1][17]

Wild boar were originally found in North Africa and much of Eurasia; from the British Isles to Korea and the Sunda Islands. The northern limit of its range extended from southern Scandinavia to southern Siberia and Japan. Within this range it was absent in extremely dry deserts and alpine zones.

A few centuries ago it was found in North Africa along the Nile valley up to Khartum and north of the Sahara. The reconstructed northern boundary of the range in Asia ran from Lake Ladoga (at 60°N) through the area of Novgorod and Moscow into the southern Ural, where it reached 52°N. From there the boundary passed Ishim and farther east the Irtysh at 56°N. In the eastern Baraba steppe (near Novosibirsk) the boundary turned steep south, encircled the Altai Mountains, and went again eastward including the Tannu-Ola Mountains and Lake Baikal. From here the boundary went slightly north of the Amur River eastward to its lower reaches at the Sea of Okhotsk. On Sakhalin there are only fossil reports of wild boar. The southern boundaries in Europe and Asia were almost everywhere identical to the sea shores of these continents. In dry deserts and high mountain ranges, the wild boar is naturally absent. So it is absent in the dry regions of Mongolia from 44–46°N southward, in China westward of Sichuan and in India north of the Himalaya. In high altitudes of Pamir and Tien Shan they are also absent; however, at Tarim basin and on the lower slopes of the Tien Shan they do occur.[6]

Present range

In recent centuries, the range of wild boar has changed dramatically, largely due to hunting by humans and more recently because of captive wild boar escaping into the wild. For many years populations dwindled. They probably became extinct in Great Britain in the 13th century.[18] In Denmark the last boar was shot at the beginning of the 19th century, and in 1900 they were absent in Tunisia and Sudan and large areas of Germany, Austria and Italy. In Russia they were extinct in wide areas in the 1930s.

A revival of boar populations began in the middle of the last century. By 1950 wild boar had once again reached their original northern boundary in many parts of their Asiatic range. By 1960 they reached Saint Petersburg and Moscow, and by 1975 they were to be found in Archangelsk and Astrakhan. In the 1970s they again occurred in Denmark and Sweden, where captive animals escaped and now survive in the wild. (The wild boar population in Sweden was estimated to be around 80,000 in 2006 but is now considered to be in excess of 100,000). In the 1990s boar migrated into Tuscany in Italy. In England, wild boar populations re-established themselves in the 1990s, after escaping from specialist farms that had imported European stock.[18]

Elsewhere, in 1493, Christopher Columbus brought 8 hogs to the West Indies. Importation to the American mainland was in the mid 16th century by Hernan Cortes and Hernando de Soto, and in the mid 17th century by Sieur de La Salle. Pure Eurasian boar were also imported there for sport hunting in the early 20th century.[5] Large populations of wild boar also live in Australia, New Zealand and North and South America.[19]

Status in Britain

Between their medieval extinction and the 1980s, when wild boar farming began, only a handful of captive wild boar, imported from the continent, were present in Britain. Occasional escapes of wild boar from wildlife parks have occurred as early as the 1970s, but since the early 1990s significant populations have re-established themselves after escapes from farms; the number of which has increased as the demand for wild boar meat has grown.

A 1998 MAFF (now DEFRA) study on wild boar living wild in Britain confirmed the presence of two populations of wild boar living in Britain; one in Kent/East Sussex and another in Dorset.[18]

Another DEFRA report, in February 2008,[20] confirmed the existence of these two sites as 'established breeding areas' and identified a third in Gloucestershire/Herefordshire; in the Forest of Dean/Ross on Wye area. A 'new breeding population' was also identified in Devon.

Populations estimates were;

  • The largest population, in Kent/East Sussex, was estimated at approximately 200 animals in the core distribution area.
  • The second largest, in Gloucestershire/Herefordshire, was estimated to be in excess of 100 animals.
  • The smallest, in west Dorset, was estimated to be fewer than 50 animals.
  • Since winter 2005/6 significant escapes/releases have also resulted in animals colonising areas around the fringes of Dartmoor, in Devon. These are considered as an additional single 'new breeding population' and currently estimated to be up to 100 animals.

Population estimates for the Forest of Dean are disputed. In early 2010 the Forestry Commission embarked on a cull,[21] with the aim of reducing the boar population from an estimated 150 animals to 100. By August is was stated that efforts were being made to reduce the population from 200 to 90, but that only 25 had been killed.[22] The failure to meet cull targets was confirmed in February 2011.[23]

There have also been reports of wild boar having crossed the River Wye into Monmouthshire, Wales.[24] Many other sightings, across the UK, have also been reported.[25] The effects of wild boar on the UK's woodlands were discussed with Ralph Harmer of the Forestry Commission on the BBC Radio's Farming Today radio programme in 2011. The programme prompted activist writer George Monbiot to propose a thorough population study, followed by the introduction of permit-controlled culling. The revenue could be used to compensate farmers for crop damage caused by boar.[26]

Wild boar farming in the UK

Captive wild boar in Britain are kept in private or public wildlife collections and in zoos, but exist predominantly on farms. Because wild boar are included in the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, certain legal requirements have to be met prior to setting up a farm. A licence to keep boar is required from the local council, who will appoint a specialist to inspect the premises and report back to the council. Requirements include secure accommodation and fencing, correct drainage, temperature, lighting, hygiene, ventilation and insurance.

The original U.K. wild boar farm stock was mainly of French origin, but from 1987 onwards, farmers have supplemented the original stock with animals of both west European and east European origin. The east European animals were imported from farm stock in Sweden because Sweden, unlike eastern Europe, has a similar health status for pigs to that of Britain. Currently there is no central register listing all the wild boar farms in the UK; the total number of wild boar farms is unknown.[18]

Status in Germany

Recently, Germany has reported a surge in the wild boar population. According to one study, "German wild boar litters have six to eight piglets on average, other countries usually only about four or five."[27] Boar in Germany are also said to be becoming increasingly 'brazen' and intruding further into cities such as Berlin.[28]

Subspecies

A Common wild boar piglet in the Netherlands

Different subspecies can usually be distinguished by the relative lengths and shapes of their lacrimal bones. S. scrofa cristatus and S. scrofa vittatus have shorter lacrimal bones than European subspecies.[29] Spanish and French boar specimens have 36 chromosomes, as opposed to wild boar in the rest of Europe which possess 38, the same number as domestic pigs. Boars with 36 chromosomes have successfully mated with animals possessing 38, resulting in fertile offspring with 37 chromosomes.[30]

Four subspecies groups are generally recognized:[31]

Western races (scrofa group)

  • Common Wild Boar Sus scrofa scrofa: The most common and most widespread subspecies, its original distribution ranges from France to European Russia. It has been introduced in Sweden, Norway, the USA and Canada.[7]
  • Iberian Wild Boar Sus scrofa baeticus: A small subspecies present in the southwestern Iberian Peninsula.[7] Probably a junior synonym of S. s. meridionalis.[31]
  • Castillian Wild Boar Sus scrofa castilianus: Larger than S. s. baeticus, it inhabits northern Spain.[7] Probably a junior synonym of S. s. scrofa.[31]
  • Sardinian Wild Boar Sus scrofa meridionalis: A small, almost maneless subspecies from Corsica, Sardinia and Andalusia.[32] Possibly extinct now in its island range.[citation needed]
  • Italian Wild Boar Sus scrofa majori: A subspecies smaller than S. s. scrofa with a higher and wider skull. It occurs in central and southern Italy. Since the 1950s, it has hybridized extensively with introduced S. s. scrofa populations.[7]
  • Sus scrofa attila: A very large, long-maned, yellowish subspecies from eastern Europe to Kazakhstan, northern Caucasus and Iran.[32]
  • Barbary Wild Boar Sus scrofa algira: Maghreb in Africa. Closely related to, and sometimes considered a junior synonym of, S. s. scrofa, but smaller and with proportionally longer tusks.[17] Now quite rare.[citation needed]
  • Sus scrofa lybica: A small, pale and almost maneless subspecies from Caucasus to the Nile Delta, Turkey and the Balkans.[32] Possibly extinct now.[citation needed]
  • Sus scrofa sennaarensis: From Egypt and northern Sudan. Former presence in these countries, where became extinct around 1900, is linked to ancient introductions by man, and S. s. sennaarensis is probably a junior synonym of S. s. scrofa.[17][31] "Wild boars" now present in Sudan are derived from domestic pigs.[17]
  • Sus scrofa nigripes: A light-coloured subspecies with dark legs from Tianshan Mountains, Central Asia.[32]

Indian races (cristatus group)

Indian wild boar (Sus scrofa cristatus) at Ranthambore National Park
  • Indian Wild Boar Sus scrofa cristatus: A long-maned subspecies with a coat that is brindled black unlike S. s. davidi.[32] More lightly built than European boar. Its head is larger and more pointed than that of the European boar, and its ears smaller and more pointed.[33] The plane of the forehead straight, while it is concave in the European.[33] Occurs from the Himalayas south to central India and east to Indochina (north of the Kra Isthmus).[32]
  • Sus scrofa affinis: This subspecies is smaller than S. s. cristatus and found in southern India and Sri Lanka.[32] Validity questionable.[31]
  • Sus scrofa davidi: A small, long-maned and light brown subspecies from eastern Iran to Gujarat; perhaps north to Tajikistan.[32]

Eastern races (leucomystax group)

  • Manchurian Wild Boar Sus scrofa ussuricus: A very large (largest subspecies of the wild boar), almost maneless subspecies with a thick coat that is blackish in the summer and yellowish-grey in the winter.[32] From Manchuria and Korea.[32]
  • Japanese Wild Boar Sus scrofa leucomystax: A small, almost maneless, yellowish-brown subspecies from Japan (except Hokkaido where the wild boar is not naturally present, and the Ryuku Islands where replaced by S. s. riukiuanus).[32]
  • Ryuku Wild Boar Sus scrofa riukiuanus: A small subspecies from the Ryuku Islands.[32]
  • Formosan Wild Boar Sus scrofa taivanus: A small blackish subspecies from Taiwan.[32]
  • Sus scrofa moupinensis: A relatively small and short-maned subspecies from most of China and Vietnam. There are significant variations within this subspecies, and it is possible there actually are several subspecies involved.[32] On the contrary, recent evidence suggests the virtually unknown Heude's pig may be identical to (and consequently a synonym of) wild boars from this region.[34]
  • Siberian Wild Boar Sus scrofa sibiricus: A relatively small subspecies from Mongolia and Transbaikalia.[32]

Sundaic race (vittatus group)

  • Banded pig Sus scrofa vittatus: A small, short-faced and sparsely furred subspecies with a white band on the muzzle.[32][35] From Peninsular Malaysia, and in Indonesia from Sumatra and Java east to Komodo.[32] Might be a separate species,[32] and shows some similarities with some other species of wild pigs in south-east Asia.

Domestic pig

The domestic pig is usually regarded as a further subspecies; Sus scrofa domestica – although sometimes classified as a separate species; Sus domestica.

Natural predators

Wild boar are a main food source for tigers in the regions where they coexist. Tigers typically follow boar groups, and pick them off one by one. Tigers have been noted to chase boars for longer distances than with other prey, though they will usually avoid tackling mature male boars. In many cases, boars have gored tigers to death in self defense.[36]

Wolves are also major predators of boars in some areas. Wolves mostly feed on piglets, though adults have been recorded to be taken in Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, and Russia. Wolves rarely attack boars head on, preferring to tear at their perineum, causing loss of coordination and massive blood loss. In some areas of the former Soviet Union, a single wolf pack can consume an average of 50–80 wild boars annually.[37] In areas of Italy where the two animals are sympatric, the extent to which boars are preyed upon by wolves has led to them developing more aggressive behaviour toward both wolves and domestic dogs.[7]

Striped hyenas occasionally feed on boars, though it has been suggested that only hyenas from the three larger subspecies present in Northwest Africa, the Middle East, and India can successfully kill them.[38]

Young piglets are important prey for several species, including large snakes, such as the reticulated python, large birds of prey, and various wild felids. In Australia many piglets are killed by dingos. Adults, due to their size, strength, and defensive aggression, are generally avoided as prey. However, they have been taken additionally by mature leopards; large bears (mainly brown bears); and mature crocodiles. All predators of boars are opportunistic and would take piglets given the opportunity. Where introduced outside of their natural range, boars may be at the top of the food chain, but are also sometimes taken by predators similar to those in their native Eurasia.[9] Introduced wild boars in North America have predators such as the Grizzly bear, American black bear, Gray wolf, Red wolf, coyote, and cougars.

Commercial use

Tyrolean style roasted wild boar

The hair of the boar was often used for the production of the toothbrush until the invention of synthetic materials in the 1930s.[39] The hair for the bristles usually came from the neck area of the boar. While such brushes were popular because the bristles were soft, this was not the best material for oral hygiene as the hairs were slow to dry and usually retained bacteria. Today's toothbrushes are made with plastic bristles.

Boar hair is used in the manufacture of boar-bristle hairbrushes, which are considered to be gentler on hair—and much more expensive—than common plastic-bristle hairbrushes. However, among shaving brushes, which are almost exclusively made with animal fibres, the cheaper models use boar bristles, while badger hair is used in much more expensive models.[40]

Boar hair is used in the manufacture of paintbrushes, especially those used for oil painting. Boar bristle paintbrushes are stiff enough to spread thick paint well, and the naturally split or "flagged" tip of the untrimmed bristle helps hold more paint.

Despite claims that boar bristles have been used in the manufacture of premium dart boards for use with steel-tipped darts, these boards are, in fact, made of other materials and fibres—the finest ones from sisal rope.

In many countries, boar are farmed for their meat, and in countries such as France and Italy, for example, boar (sanglier in French, "cinghiale" in Italian) may often be found for sale in butcher shops or offered in restaurants (although the consumption of wild boar meat has been linked to transmission of Hepatitis E in Japan).[41] In Germany, boar meat ranks among the highest priced types of meat and is as much part of high standard cuisine as venison. In certain countries, such as Laos and parts of China, boar meat is considered an aphrodisiac.[42]

Mythology, religion, history and fiction

Deity form of Varaha, Khajuraho, 12th C AD
The hunt of the Calydonian Boar shown on a Roman frieze (Ashmolean Museum)
The Norse boar Gullinbursti with the god Frey, 1901 painting by Johannes Gehrts
Of the Wilde Boar

In Celtic mythology the boar was sacred to the Gallic goddess Arduinna,[43][44] and boar hunting features in several stories of Celtic and Irish mythology. One such story is that of how Fionn mac Cumhaill ("Finn McCool") lured his rival Diarmuid Ua Duibhne to his death—gored by a wild boar.[citation needed]

In the Asterix comic series set in Gaul, wild boar are the favourite food of Obelix whose immense appetite means that he can eat several roasted boar in a single sitting.[citation needed]

Gullinbursti (meaning "Gold Mane or Golden Bristles") is a boar in Norse mythology.

In Hindu mythology, the third Avatar of the Lord Vishnu was Varaha, a boar.[citation needed]

At least three Roman Legions are known to have had a boar as their emblems: Legio I Italica, Legio X Fretensis and Legio XX Valeria Victrix.

A boar is a long-standing symbol of the city of Milan, Italy. In Andrea Alciato's Emblemata (1584), beneath a woodcut of the first raising of Milan's city walls, a boar is seen lifted from the excavation. The foundation of Milan is credited to two Celtic peoples, the Bituriges and the Aedui, having as their emblems a ram and a boar respectively (Bituricis vervex, Heduis dat sucula signum.); therefore "The city's symbol is a wool-bearing boar, an animal of double form, here with sharp bristles, there with sleek wool," (Laniger huic signum sus est, animálque biforme, Acribus hinc setis, lanitio inde levi). Alciato credits the most saintly and learned Ambrose for his account.[45]

In Medieval hunting the boar, like the hart, was a 'beast of venery', the most prestigious form of quarry. It was normally hunted by being harboured, or found by a 'limer', or bloodhound handled on a leash, before the pack of hounds were released to pursue it on its hot scent. In The poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight[46] a boar hunt is described, which depicts how dangerous the boar could be to the pack hounds, or raches, which hunted it.[47]

A story from Nevers, which is reproduced in the Golden Legend, states that one night Charlemagne dreamed he was about to be killed by a wild boar during a hunt, but was saved by the appearance of a child, who had promised to save the emperor if he would give him clothes to cover his nakedness. The bishop of Nevers interpreted this dream to mean that the child was Saint Cyricus and that he wanted the emperor to repair the roof of the Cathédrale Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte de Nevers – which Charlemagne duly did.[citation needed]

The ancient Lowland Scottish Clan Swinton is said to have to have acquired the name Swinton for their bravery and clearing their area of Wild Boar. The chief's coat of arms and the clan crest allude to this legend, as is the name of the village of Swinewood in the county of Berwick which was granted to them in the 11th century.[citation needed]

Richard III (r. 1483–1485) used the white boar as his personal device and badge. It was also passed to his short-lived son, Edward.[citation needed]

Folklore, in the Forest of Dean, England, tells of a giant boar, known as the Beast of Dean, which terrorised villagers in the early 19th century.[citation needed]

Coat of Arms of Sauerlach, Germany

Heraldry and other symbolic use

The wild boar and a boar's head are common charges in heraldry. It represents what are often seen as the positive qualities of the boar, namely courage and fierceness in battle. The arms of the Campbell of Possil family (see Carter-Campbell of Possil) include the head, erect and erased of a wild boar, as does the crest Mackinnon clan. The arms of the Swinton Family also possess wild boar, as does the coat of arms of the Purcell family.[48]

Feral pigs

Feral pigs in the United States (here Cape Canaveral, Florida)

Domestic pigs can escape and quite readily become feral, and feral populations are problematic in several ways. They cause damage to trees and other vegetation, consume agricultural crops, feed on the eggs of ground-nesting birds and turtles, and can carry disease.[49] Feral pigs often interbreed with wild boar, producing descendants similar in appearance to wild boar; these can then be difficult to distinguish from natural or introduced true wild boar. The characterization of populations as feral pig, escaped domestic pig or wild boar is usually decided by where the animals are encountered and what is known of their history. In New Zealand, for example, feral pigs are known as "Captain Cookers" from their supposed descent from liberations and gifts to Māori by explorer Captain James Cook in the 1770s.[50] New Zealand feral pigs are also frequently known as "tuskers", due to their appearance.

One characteristic by which domestic and feral animals are differentiated is their coats. Feral animals almost always have thick, bristly coats ranging in colour from brown through grey to black. A prominent ridge of hair matching the spine is also common, giving rise to the name razorback in the southern United States, where they are common. The tail is usually long and straight. Feral animals tend also to have longer legs than domestic breeds and a longer and narrower head and snout.

Wild boar/domestic pig hybrid, displayed at Rothschild Museum, Tring, England

A very large swine dubbed Hogzilla was shot in Georgia, United States, in June 2004.[51] Initially thought to be a hoax, the story became something of an internet sensation. National Geographic Explorer investigated the story, sending scientists into the field. After exhuming the animal and performing DNA testing, it was determined that Hogzilla was a hybrid of wild boar and domestic swine.[52] As of 2008, the estimated population of 4 million feral pigs caused an estimated US$800 million of property damage a year in the U.S.[53] The problematic nature of feral hogs has caused several states in the U.S. to declare feral hogs to be an invasive species. Often, these states will have greatly-reduced (or even non-existent) hunting regulations regarding feral hogs. In Missouri, no hunting permit is required for the taking of wild boar; hunters may take as many as they like with any weapon. The Missouri Department of Conservation requests that hunters who encounter feral hogs shoot them on sight.[54]

At the beginning of the 20th century, wild boar were introduced for hunting in the United States, where they interbred in parts with free roaming domestic pigs. In South America, New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia and other islands, wild boar have also been introduced by humans and have partially interbred with domestic pigs.

In South America, also during the early 20th century, free-ranging boars were introduced in Uruguay for hunting purposes and eventually crossed the border into Brazil sometime during the 1990s, quickly becoming an invasive species, licensed private hunting of both feral boars and hybrids (javaporcos) being allowed from August 2005 on in the Southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul,[55] although their presence as a pest had been already noticed by the press as early as 1994.[56] Releases and escapes from unlicensed farms (established because of increased demand for boar meat as an alternative to pork), however, continued to bolster feral populations and by mid-2008 licensed hunts had to be expanded to the states of Santa Catarina and São Paulo.[57] Such licensed hunts were, however, forbidden in 2010 by IBAMA, which argued the necessity of additional studies for devising a strategy of pest control for boars. Meanwhile, boars and boar crosses were spotted in the State of Rio de Janeiro, where cases of crop raiding were reported in the municipality of Porciuncula. There's also the danger of an escape from an unlicensed farm in Nova Friburgo. In October 2010, a rural worker was killed by a boar in Ibiá, in the State of Minas Gerais.

Recently established Brazilian boar populations are not to be confused with long established populations of feral domestic pigs (porcos monteiros), which have existed mainly in the Pantanal for more than a hundred years, along with native peccaries. The demographic dynamics of the interaction between feral pigs populations and those of the two native species of peccaries (Collared Peccary and White-lipped Peccary) is obscure and is being studied presently. It has been proposed that the existence of feral pigs could somewhat ease jaguar predation on peccary populations, as jaguars would show a preference for hunting pigs, when these are available.[58]

Feral hogs can rapidly increase their population. Sows can have up to 10 offspring per litter, and are able to have two litters per year. Each piglet reaches sexual maturity at 6 months of age. They have virtually no natural predators.[59]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Seward, Liz (4 September 2007). "Pig DNA reveals farming history". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6978203.stm. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  3. ^ Leaper, R.; Massei, G.; Gorman, M. L.; Aspinall, R. (1999). "The feasibility of reintroducing Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) to Scotland". Mammal Review 29 (4): 239. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2907.1999.2940239.x. http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/specialarticles/mam1_xx.pdf. 
  4. ^ "Taxonomy Browser: Sus Scrofa". National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/Browser/wwwtax.cgi?mode=Info&id=9823&lvl=3&keep=1&srchmode=1&unlock. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wild boar — Wild Wild, a. [Compar. {Wilder}; superl. {Wildest}.] [OE. wilde, AS. wilde; akin to OFries. wilde, D. wild, OS. & OHG. wildi, G. wild, Sw. & Dan. vild, Icel. villr wild, bewildered, astray, Goth. wilpeis wild, and G. & OHG. wild game, deer; of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • wild boar — noun count a wild pig a. uncount the meat of a wild boar …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • wild boar — n a large wild pig with long hair …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • wild boar — wild′ boar′ n. mam a wild Old World swine, Sus scrofa, the ancestor of domestic breeds of hogs • Etymology: 1475–85 …   From formal English to slang

  • wild boar — n. a hog (Sus scrofa) living wild in Europe, Africa, and Asia, from which domestic hogs were derived …   English World dictionary

  • wild boar — noun Old World wild swine having a narrow body and prominent tusks from which most domestic swine come; introduced in United States • Syn: ↑boar, ↑Sus scrofa • Hypernyms: ↑swine • Member Holonyms: ↑Sus, ↑genus Sus …   Useful english dictionary

  • wild boar — UK / US noun Word forms wild boar : singular wild boar plural wild boars or wild boar a) [countable] a wild pig b) [uncountable] the meat of a wild pig …   English dictionary

  • wild boar — šernas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Sus scrofa angl. European wild boar; European wild hog; wild boar; wild hog; wild pig vok. wildes Schwein; Wildschwein rus. дикая свинья; кабан pranc. sanglier;… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • wild boar — N COUNT (The plural can be either wild boar or wild boars.) A wild boar is a large fierce pig which has two long curved teeth and a hairy body, and lives in forests …   English dictionary

  • wild boar — a wild Old World swine, Sus scrofa, from which most of the domestic hogs are believed to be derived. [1475 85] * * * also called  Wild Pig,         any of the wild members of the pig species Sus scrofa (family Suidae, order Artiodactyla), the… …   Universalium


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