Several decades after their re-introduction, Sweden’s wild boar population has exploded from hundreds to hundreds of thousands, becoming the single largest reason for domestic hunting dog injuries, as well as a bane for the nations crop farmers.
In recent years, Sweden’s wild boar population has exploded to become a threat to humans and dogs, as well as a detriment to the Nordic country’s agricultural sector.
In December, a boar rampaged through a McDonald’s restaurant in the city of Uppsala north of Stockholm. In the summer, a hunter in southern Sweden died after being gored by a boar, which became the country’s first such fatality in modern history.
Boars have caused more than 5,100 traffic accidents in 2022 alone.
Last and perhaps most important, they destroyed a massive 84,500 tons of crops in 2020, causing losses of 1.1 billion kronor ($100 million) and creating serious insurance problems for farmers. Stories of farmers having their crops destroyed by boars have become a common sight in Swedish media.
A study presented in the country’s leading nationwide specialist magazine for farmers gave a dull picture of the Swedes’ relationship with their wild boar, as six out of ten respondents said its population was too big, with their share reaching 80% in boar-rich regions.
Yet another reason for keeping the wild boar population down is to keep African swine fever at bay; the disease is fatal for wild boar and domestic pigs alike.
The disease has already established itself in Sweden’s vicinity — in Poland, Germany and the Baltic countries. Its spread to Sweden, painted as a worst-case scenario, would pose a threat to the nation’s pork industry as well.
Wild boar has long been a natural part of the Swedish fauna, having thrived in Nordic forests since pre-historic times. At some point during the 18th century, the wild boar was exterminated and it was not until the 1940’s until it was reintroduced — and only in enclosures.
However, escapes and illegal releases from captivity have since occurred, which made the boar population skyrocket as it spread across the country.
In the early 1980’s, there were fewer than 100 free-living wild boars in the country. The current boar population is estimated at 300,000 and is growing despite the annual shooting of tens of thousands of the animals.
Sputnik / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.