Aníbal G. Arregui (CEFRES-Charles University)
Editorial Boar. Animal Amendements on Barcelona Urban Relationality
In this project I first follow, on an institutional and media level, the unfolding ecopolitical controversies around urban wild boars proliferation in the periphery Barcelona (with clear resonances in other big European cities). In parallel, I conduct an ethnography of human- wild boars direct interactions, looking at how nonhumans not only share environments with humans but also smartly use human-made infrastructures (water reservoirs, trash cans, parks, etc.). While the macro level is revealing the ethical and ecopolitical complexities of ‘controling’ this recalcitrant part of ‘nature’, the ethnographic perspective is showing that wild boars themselves, as editors with their own and inevitable prospects, suggest some ‘amendements’ to usual forms of relating in and to the peri-urban environment. The question remains of whether urban wild-boars ‘editorial remarks’ could help to likewise rephrase urban relationality, in general, by highlighting the need of a different management of Barcelona limited urban space and natural resources.
Luděk Brož (Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences, CEFRES)
Facing the Pig Multiple: Knowledge Drift Towards Porcine Futures
Eurasian wild pigs (Sus scrofa) feature regularly in European public discourse, for their numbers have been rising spectacularly across the continent. While in some parts of Europe this by now synanthropic species generates sympathy, in other contexts humans have declared war on wild boars for causing extensive damage to landscapes, agriculture, transportation networks and so on. In all the complex fuzz about this trespassing carrier of diseases one thing seems beyond doubt, the identity of the boar itself. Closer look nevertheless reveals that various knowledge making practices establish their own wild boars, not necessarily (fully) compatible with one another. At stake is not only the rift between vernacular and scientific knowledge. The boar portrayed, for example, by ethology might seem very different from the one studied by physiology. Speaking in terms of “data compatibility”, experts doubt even to what degree the moving boar tracked by GPS could be compatible with the moving boar tracked thanks to footprints in snow. In epidemiological models or phylogenetic studies potential alterities and identities of those multiple boars transcend even the wild/domestic divide. Following the lead of STS scholars, namely Annemarie Mol, I will suggest that knowledge making in question is in principle a complex negotiation of ontological dis-continuities of such multiple pigs and that anthropology of human-pig relations is but an addition to this endeavour. Human knowledge making practices, I will further argue, play a crucial role in co-shaping our drift towards common porcine futures.
Juan Martin Dabezies (Universidad de la República, Montevideo)
Hunting of wild boar in Uruguay: global discourses and local conflicts
In this work I present some results of an ongoing project related to the hunting of wild boar in Uruguay (http://cazayantropologia.com/en/). The wild boar is currently the most hunted animal nationwide. It is considered a national pest, so it is possible to hunt it in any way, at any time and in any place. Recent processes of changes in the regulation of hunting at national level, have impacted on the ethics of hunting, generated certain differences among some hunters. On the other hand, there are conflicts between hunters and between them and animalists and conservationists groups. The ferality of the wild boar, the role of the dogs in hunting and the productive models that have advanced in the rural areas together with the wild boar, are the interpretative keys to understand these conflicts and their relations with the speeches of the plague and the biological invasions, that a global level support the local combat.
Erica von Essen (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala)
How Wild Boar Hunting Is Becoming a Battleground
Sport hunting has been shaped by modernization processes like commoditization and rationalization, involving the now efficient use of weapons and technology. But these processes have also precipitated counter-reactions seeking to ‘return’ hunting to a perceived state of authenticity and bare-bones hunting. This is above all manifested in the rise of neo-atavism such as hunting with a bow and arrow. It is also exemplified in an embodied turn that involves a more intimate and care-based relationship with wildlife. Many hunters today are demarcated into ‘communities of practice’ on the basis of how they are positioned in relation to these contradicting trends. In this paper, I investigate what happens when such trends and communities of practice collide, using a case study of wild boar hunting. Through literature studies and interviews with Swedish hunters, I show how the wild boar becomes a nexus for the contradictions of modernization as pertains to animal-based recreation. This is then discussed, first, as to what this means for wild boar welfare and, second, as to what sorts of identities, values and ethics that the wild boar brings about among hunters.
Åsa Fahlman (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences/SLU), Erik O. Ågren (National Veterinary Institute), Ulrika A. Bergvall (SLU and Stockholm University), Odd Höglund (SLU), Petter Kjellander (SLU), Johan Lindsjö (SLU), Therese Arvén Norling (SLU) and Mats Stridsberg (Uppsala University)
Animal Welfare Evaluation of Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) Trapping
Wildlife traps are used in many countries with limited or no in-depth evaluation of animal welfare. Trap-capture of wild animals should be humane and ensure animal welfare, whether the animals are captured for marking, research, or hunting. Live-trap capture of wild boars is a recently introduced but disputed hunting method in Sweden, where the legal trap constructions have been approved based on pathological examinations only. For improved animal welfare evaluation, our aim was to study live trapping of wild boar in an approved corral-style trap (JP Trap). Behavioral, physiological and pathological assessments were conducted through filming of 12 capture events of 38 wild boar, blood sample analysis of the chromogranin A-derived peptides vasostatin and catestatin, and pathological examination of wild boars euthanised after live trapping. Behavioural alterations indicative of capture-induced stress (e.g. charging into the trap walls) were documented in trapped wild boars with no or minor physical injuries (e.g. skin abrasions, subcutaneous hemorrhage). Thus, capture-related injuries alone did not reflect the stress induced by live-trapping in wild boar. Single captured individuals showed more escape behaviours and reacted stronger to external stimuli than individuals captured in a group. The median (range) for catestatin and vasostatin levels were 0.91 (0.54 – 2.86) and 0.65 (0.35 – 2.62) nmol/L, respectively. In conclusion, behavioral and physiological assessments should also be included when evaluating trap constructions, to determine the stress response in captured animals, since pathological evaluation insufficiently reflects the animal welfare aspects of live trapping of wild boar.
Keywords: Animal welfare, live-trap capture, stress, trapping, wild boar
The study was supported by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) – Wildlife Management Fund (#13/279) and the Swedish Association for the Protection of Animals (Swedish: Svenska Djurskyddsföreningen). We thank Lillemor Wodmar and Bengt Röken for advice and support, Michael Gustavsson, Petter Foucard and Robert Tiblom for field support, and Sumer Lovlinger for conducting the CgA analyses. We also thank Henrik Uhlhorn, Jonas Malmsten and Gete Hestvik for conducting wild boar necropsies. Field testing of new live animal traps, including pathological assessment, was accomplished through a contract between SEPA and SLU (Contract no NV-04004-14).
Larissa Fleischmann (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)
Boar(der) Control. Governing Mobile Wild Boars in the European Border Regime
In June 2018, the Danish parliament approved the plan to build a fence along its borderline to Germany, covering a length of roughly 70 kilometres. This recent decision coincides with growing levels of right-wing and anti-immigrant sentiments across the country, with the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party being second largest power in parliament. Since the so-called ‘European refugee crisis’ in 2015, not only Denmark but various other members states of the European Union have resurrected their national borders. For instance, they have re-introduced border checks to ‘keep out’ unwanted migrants, and by so doing, have profoundly challenged the Schengen treaty, a basic tenet of the European Union. The recent decision to build a fence along the Danish-German border seems to be a striking case in point. However, this move is not presented primarily as a means to take action against irregular migrants. Instead, the unwanted border crossers are of a non-human kind: mobile wild boars. As transmitters of the African Swine Fever, an infectious disease that could possibly spread over to domestic pigs, they are deemed a threat for the Danish pig industry. In this presentation at the ‘Porcine Futures’ workshop, my aim is to introduce my new research project that will focus on this urge to govern and gain control over mobile wild boar populations in the European border regime. In particular, I am interested in how such incentives to govern mobile animals, issues of animal health and human-animal relations relate to a resurrection of national borders and the governance of mobilities within the European Union. Before heading out to the ‘field’, I am keen to elaborate some initial thoughts about research questions, outline and methodology and discuss them with workshop participants.
Michael Gibbert (University of Lugano), Stefano Giacomelli (University of Lugano), Roberto Viganò (Studio Associato AlpVet)
A Tale of Two Boars: Ungulate Management in Italy and Germany
Few empirical studies have explored the effectiveness of concrete wild boar management approaches. This comes as no surprise as the ‘management’ of wild boar constitutes a wicked problem (Rittel and Webber, 1979) in that it needs to accommodate different stakeholder demands, which vary depending on the hunting legislation which regulates these stakeholders. The main question relates to the legal ownership of the wild boar (whether it belongs to the individual landowner, the state, everyone, or no-one). Successful wild boar management therefore will differ depending on the legislative context. A recent empirical paper (Giacomelli, Gibbert, Vigano, forthcoming) pointed to the potential of depredation permits issued in a ‘community empowerment’ (CE) system in Northern Italy over ten years (2009-2018). The authors illustrate the effectiveness of delegating increasing chunks of responsibility for controlling the wild boar population from government agencies to the local community, where volunteers (including non-hunters) were provided depredation permits outside the regular hunting season.
However, this study was done in a legislative context where the state, together with regional government agencies retain the full responsibility for wildlife management (including economic damage), and sell permits to hunters who can then practice their ‘sport’ (i.e. without any responsibility other than the lawful culling of the assigned species). The question of the generalizability of this CE system in other hunting legislations arises. In particular, in countries such as Germany and Austria, the landowner has in principle the right to hunt on his or her land, or lease out that land to paying hunters. These hunters then have the right and duty to ‘manage’ the wildlife population (including the damages incurred) in a clearly demarcated geographical area which only they control. In many ways, the state delegates wildlife management (along with the economic responsibility) entirely to hunters. The objective of the present paper is to explore the generalizability of the CE system in the second legislative system. To tackle this issue, we frame boar management as a ‘wicked problem’ centring on the pivotal role of the individual hunter leasing the land and compare the Italian and German system as case studies for the two different approaches to ungulate management. In so doing, we point to several conflicts of interest the individual hunter faces, potentially making him or her ill-suited as the main agent in wild boar management, and discuss ways out of these dilemmas.
Keywords: ungulate management, pests, wicked problem, hunting, conservation.
Thorsten Gieser (University of Koblenz-Landau)
Hunters and Wild Boars: the (Inter)Corporeality of a Relationship
What is special about hunters’ relationship with wild boar in Germany? In comparison to hunting other game animals in this country, hunting wild boar is a challenging and risky practice. Boar bodies are ‘hard’, armoured and armed and the intercorporeal encounter with them exposes the vulnerability of the hunter’s body who need to protect and extend their body in response. Assisted by animal intermediaries, architecture and a range of material artefacts, hunters employ a range of hunting techniques either to mitigate or to engage in this risky encounter: from hunting from a raised seat with a rifle to attacking boar with a spear or dagger in ‘hand-to-hand combat’. In all these hunting situations, boar bodies have an affective and material presence which may consolidate into particular ‘hunting atmospheres’ characterized by danger, adventure, or thrill. Yet boar bodies have a ‘soft’ side as well: they enjoy diverse ‘wellness’ activities and hunters, in turn, respond to these bodily desires by altering the hunting landscape accordingly and even employing ‘wellness kits’. I argue that these hunting experiences, corporeal encounters with soft and hard boar bodies, sheds light on an ambiguous relationship that exceeds the usual discursive constructions of wild boar either as pest or ‘our most knightly game’.
Alain Gigounoux (Departmental Federation of hunters of Lot and Garonne)
Wild boar hunting and population control in France. An analysis of public policies and their consequences for the relationship between hunters and wildlife
Between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 2000s, public authorities in France succeeded, through education efforts and a regulatory framework, to change French hunting practices. The objective was to restore and to develop lowland ungulate populations as a wild renewable resource. To that end, hunting was remodeled according to concepts characteristic for central Europe, and in particular the Germanic model. The traditional hunting as free and random sampling, practiced as some kind of “playing-dueling” with wild game, was slowly oriented towards “wildlife management” and towards a less intrusive form of harvest-hunting.
At the same time, a very strong increase in wild boar populations occurred and this species progressively causes more and more serious damages to human activities. But while only the hunters regulate wild boar numbers, and also finance public wildlife administration as well as the compensation of damages to agriculture, their number shows a clear and continuous decline. Confronted with the need to control these game populations, the hunting administration encourages, or even imposes the return to a more efficient way of hunting and introduces less restrictive hunting rules. This constitutes a new conceptual revolution. Being inconsistent with hunters’ education and training, as well as the legal framework in place for the last fifty years or so, these radical changes are often negatively perceived and poorly understood by the hunters’ community.
Hunting has the effect of regulating game but that is not the reason why hunters practice it. Hunters do not consider themselves agents of a public wildlife control service. I have shown that the motivation of hunters comes from their passion for hunting. For hunters, hunting cultures and traditions, symbolic representations, the relationship to game and nature, constitute the fundamental and essential elements of the hunting act. This presentation will explain how taking into account these parameters and their interactions can determine the efficiency of the normative action taken by the public authorities on hunting.
Teodora Goea (University of Manchester)
Of past and present pig slaughters: changing consumption trajectories and reconfiguring the future in a Romanian mountainous commune
Marked by an abrupt, but indecisive de-industrialisation, a Romanian mountainous commune has been grappling with a long-term conflict surrounding the re-commencing of industrial activity under the guise of a large-scale, mainly privately-financed mining project. The following paper will look into how two instances of pig slaughter illustrate and articulate tensions generated by the mining debate, as well as being inscribed within wider constellations of long-lasting development, memorialisation, embodiment of skill, and memorialisation of the past as a critique of the current situation of the commune. I will argue that the pig slaughter, as a practice where skill, the reiteration of tradition, changing consumption patterns, as well as discourses surrounding how things were before (înainte) collocate, signals wider processes through which the commune has been engaging with a particular form of de-industrialisation.
Eugenie van Heijgen (Wageningen University)
Transgressing the ‘wild’: duck trapping machines and wild boar spaces in the Netherlands
Many of the spaces in the Netherlands we now consider as ‘natural areas’, have a long hunting history. Insight in the trajectories of these, what I call ‘hunting landscapes’ show how historically in these landscapes the lives of humans and animals have emerged together, even those animals that are often seen as ‘wild’. With the examples of duck decoys and wild boar hunting in the Netherlands, I aim to exemplify the way in which the materialities and human-animal relations embedded in co-created hunting landscapes transgress notions of nature and culture, hunting and trapping and domestic and tame. The entangled multi-species trajectories of duck decoys show how the Dutch landscape once was shaped around numerous preindustrial machines designed to catch birds, which worked through an intimate attunement between humans and animals. The Dutch landscape in which wild boar roam has been co-designed in a less clear cut way, for the lives of wild boar have been entangled with a particular ‘natural’ area called the Veluwe. Not only does it historically inscribe biopolitical relations through fences, counting and managing the numbers of animals descending from those imported from Germany in the 20th century as hunting game. Wild boars also symbolize the way in which animals transgress their allocated ‘wild’ spaces, increasingly entering ‘human’ spaces. This presentation aims to add to the growing number of work that complicates common characterizations of human-animal relationships and the ways in which animals are considered in place and out of place, while actively moving between these. This analysis allows for a renewed understanding of how historically human-animal-landscape relations have actively shaped ‘wild’ spaces and ‘wild’ animals and now figure centrally in the conservation of these.
KAVBH Avi (University of Kent)
Adapting Hunting and its Conservation
This paper uses material from anthropological research on hunting in Northern Cyprus, to explore a Gramscian informed approach to an intersection. One between the intellectual production of hunting categories and the building, maintaining and adapting of huntings’ material and social infrastructures. Including, how hunters, hunted and the deeds of hunting are made. I critique the perspective of hunting as technique and propose a focus on hunting technology. This enables me to address the leeway and space of hunting and its adaptation, rather than seeing these as a medium through which adaptation takes place. I then evaluate ‘ethical consumption’ as one way in which the aforementioned intersection takes place and the problems that arise from it from a technological perspective. This is then used as a comparative case to evaluate the adaptation of hunting technology in Northern Cyprus. I conclude that hunting is stuck in a double-bind between being modern and the limitations on adaptation this entails, but propose that intellectual endeavours can be applied to shift this double-bind.
Jorge R. López-Olvera (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona/UAB), Raquel Castillo-Contreras (UAB), Andreu Colom-Cadena (UAB), Carles Conejero (UAB), Xavier Fernández-Aguilar (UAB), Carlos González-Crespo (UAB), Lavín Santiago (UAB), Gregorio Mentaberre (Universitat de Lleida)
Urban Wild Boar Conflict in Barcelona
Wild boar numbers are increasing all over Europe, accompanied by habituation to urban habitats in several European cities. In the urban area of Barcelona (Spain), Collserola Natural Park (CNP) is the main source for wild boars entering the city. In May 2013, the Wildlife Ecology & Health group (WEH) of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona was appointed by the Barcelona Council to provide consultancy services related to the increasing wild boar-related incidences in the urban area of Barcelona.
Wild boar presence in Barcelona is related to proximity to CNP and watercourses entering the urban area of Barcelona, as well as green area surface, proximity to cat colonies and fragmentation. Wild boar presence is more common from March to October, with high temperatures and periods without rain. Wild boar population in the CNP exceeds the carrying capacity of the natural environment, probably due to anthropogenic food resources, and most likely will continue to increase if unmanaged. The most efficient measures to reduce wild boar abundance and the related conflicts were reducing carrying capacity, as well as juvenile and yearling survival rates of both male and female.
Management approaches undertaken up to now include reactive capture of wild boars causing conflict or potential risk in urban areas; identification of the factors attracting wild boars to the urban area of Barcelona in order to correct them; reducing anthropogenic food availability for wild boars in the urban environment; capturing periurban wild boars to decrease the pressure on the city limits; and carrying out vegetation clearings in the interface between Barcelona urban area and the contacting natural green areas of the Collserola massif, in order to persuade unhabituated wild boars to dare into the urban area.
Keywords: urban wild boar, management measures
Garry Marvin (University of Roehampton, London)
Engaging with Hunting: Mosaic Pieces of Larger Pictures
In recent years it has been common for researchers interested in recreational hunting, to comment that this is a neglected, or shunned, topic. But more and more researchers are engaging with it, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It is perhaps too early to suggest the emergence of a multi-disciplinary field that might be termed ‘hunting studies’. It might not even be worth thinking in such terms. However, what I do see are studies that engage with the rich experiential, cultural, social, economic, political worlds of hunting. In this presentation I would like to offer some thoughts about the mosaic pieces, elements, the individual studies, that begin to allow us to configure the complex worlds of hunting, some thoughts on the pieces that are still necessary to picture these worlds even more richly. Finally, shifting the visual image slightly, I would like to comment on what I see as patterns that arc between the commencement of hunting events, their enactment in the present, their endings and the linking of those endings with new commencements.
Coralie Mounet (University of Grenoble)
Wild boar hunting in the French Alps: between “objectivation” and “subjectivation” of animals
Hunting in France is a highly controversial practice, particularly because of the animal death it produces. These controversies raise two issues around the human-animal relationship: (1) the spatial and (in)visible dimension of animal death and (2) the link between the meaning of animal death and the status of these animals.
(1) The geographical remoteness of cities and the confinement of animal killing to the slaughterhouse have made animal death invisible in everyday life, severing the link between meat consumption and living animals. Animal death has become « immaterial », that is to say, unlinked to the living and dead matter of animals. However, hunting wild boars brings high visibility and presence of death through its materiality (blood, flesh, corpses, weapons, noise of weapons, sounds of dogs, etc.). This paper tries to understand how this tendency of immateriality and invisibility of death is negotiated in the practice of hunting which, on the contrary, materializes death.
(2) Controversies around hunting reveal different societal norms and animal figures that oppose and coexist in the stories of hunters’ practices and those of other users of nature. The animal is taken either as a species belonging to an ecosystem, or as a sentient animal, or as an animal with agency. According to these figures, animals take the status of objects (objectivation) or subjects (subjectivation) and their death takes more or less value.
Kieran O’Mahony (Cardiff University)
Mess, risk and enchantment: disturbing place with reintroduced wild boar
The return of wild boar to the British countryside after centuries of extirpation has fomented a complex material politics around the nature of rural space. Their presence has not only stirred up questions about how to live with the particular affective capacities and ecologies of boar, but also deep-rooted social and political tensions.
Thinking through the case of the Forest of Dean, England, this paper looks at the ways in which the multiple meanings and practices that co-constitute place have been disturbed by new and unfamiliar swinescapes. In (re)establishing their own multispecies relationships, wild boar move between forest and human settlement, challenging spatial and ontological borders between nature-culture. In so doing, their rooting and snuffling bodies leave dramatic material traces and introduce new possibilities of encounter. How these materialise and are perceived, however, depends upon the different human and nonhuman capacities, mobilities, and temporalities of forest lives. For some people, boar might be seen as an unwanted nuisance and biosecurity risk, whilst others perceive them as embodying enchanting wild-ness.
Through consideration of how the unsanctioned appearance of wild boar has disrupted the memories and future trajectories of place, the story can be framed within the wider uncertainties and precarity of living in the Anthropocene.
Pierre du Plessis (Aarhus University)
Fences of “Self-Devouring Growth”: Infrastructures of Containment and their Unintended Effects
As calls to build veterinary fences reach a fever pitch throughout Europe in hopes of staving off the spread of African Swine Fever – largely due to fearful anxieties about how the disease might impact porcine economies – this paper serves as a warning about some of the unintended consequences of “infrastructures of self-devouring growth” (Livingston Forthcoming) and their far-reaching effects. In Africa, the Bechuanaland Protectorate began its transition to independence by developing the cattle industry and beef export into one of the countries primary economies. The establishment of this industry, together with diamond mining, are often exalted as the reason behind Botswana becoming an “African Miracle” and “model for development”. But this development has not come without significant consequence. In the 1950’s more than 500,000 wildebeest migrated annually between the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, the second largest migration of its kind in Africa. Trade agreements with British and other parts of Europe stipulated that veterinary fences needed to be erected to protect cattle herds from contamination from wildlife carrying various diseases, perhaps most notably Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), and the potential spread of those diseases to Europe. These fences were established with little thought as to the effects that they would have on wildlife populations and local ecologies. They cut off wildlife migratory routes and in the ensuing decades hundreds of thousands of wildebeest perished at the fences, unable to reach the water and food sources that guided their annual travels. Today, experts estimate that there are less than 1000 wildebeest in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert. These fences continue to have devastating effects on ecological life in Botswana, a country that prides itself on its commitment to wildlife conservation, yet struggles to reconcile this commitment with the growth of the cattle industry and continued outbreaks of FMD.
While attempts to control and contain the spread of epizootic diseases with barriers and enclosures are site specific in their material enactments, they often operate as transnational, and even global, apparatuses of connection in ways that escape containment. This paper explores how trade, safety, and hygiene concerns in Europe materialize as “infrastructures of self-devouring growth” (Livingston. Forthcoming) in Botswana, Africa, the effects of which ripple through Kalahari Desert landscapes in the form of veterinary fences and mass wildlife death. Furthermore, while these infrastructures encourage certain flows (commodity, capital, and trade) and seek to contain others (wildlife, cattle, and virus), such efforts to control mobilities and flows through the production of barriers often contribute to worsening the very conditions they seek to contain (Law 2006).
Marianna Szczygielska (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Wild Thing: Lessons from Wild Boars Featured in Polish and Czechoslovak Cinema
In this presentation I will analyze two films featuring wild boar hunting to explore how the representations of this species, along with its entanglement with human livelihoods, politics, and economy, have changed over the past four decades in Poland and the Czech Republic. Whereas in the 1983 Czechoslovak comedy The Snowdrop Festival (Slavnosti sněženek) by Jiří Menzel the wild boar is central to the storyline yet almost absent physically, in the 2017 Spoor (Pokot) by Agnieszka Holland the wild boar is featured prominently. This porcine proliferation reflects the growth in wild boar population linked to agricultural development, and one causing human-wildlife conflict. Additionally, the most recent outbreaks of the African swine fever (ASF) at the Eastern borders of the EU significantly transform not only the national hunting laws, but also wider human-boar interspecies relations and ecopolitics. I wonder how both films represent wild boars as game animals and what visual and discursive codes are employed to depict them? What is the role of wilderness in the way boars are portrayed in relation to human protagonists? How are the eastern borderlands of Europe shaping the porcine futures to come?
Virginie Vaté (French National Centre for Scientific Research/CNRS, CEFRES)
« Ça c’est pas d’la chasse! – That’s not hunting!” Perspectives on wild boar hunting in Southern Champagne and Northern Burgundy
In Aube and Yonne, two contiguous departments in southern Champagne and northern Burgundy, respectively, hunting practices and wildlife ecology have changed dramatically over the last 40 years. As elsewhere in France – and in Europe, generally – the wild boar population has increased tenfold. In 1988, in the department of Yonne, hunters killed 1,100 boars; while in 2008/2009 they killed 11,000 (Ferlet 2011). Assuming that the number of registered hunters has not changed greatly in the last ten years – there are currently about 11,200 in a department with a total population of circa 341,500 – that amounts to roughly one boar per registered hunter per year. According to a representative of the Federation of Hunters of the Yonne region, this department ranks third in France in the payment of indemnity fees to farmers for damages caused by wild boars – 1,300,000 € in 2008/2009 (Ferlet 2011). Over the last decade, about 1,100 ha of cultivated land have been damaged every year, that is, approximately 2.5 % of a total of 44,000 ha of arable land (Rose 2017).
In Yonne and Aube, boars live in the woods, they spread into cultivated farmland, and they enter into vineyards – all places where they might be hunted. Boars are also increasingly present in post-industrial suburban wastelands, such as those outside of the nearby city of Sens. In such suburban areas, they cannot be hunted due to the proximity to populated areas. Boars can also be found in “wild boar parks” (parcs à sangliers) or “hunting parks” (parcs de chasse) – private enterprises where animals live behind fences and are fed regularly. People who work in such places call themselves “boar herders” (éleveurs de sangliers). These parks attract hunting tourists, coming mostly from Paris and its suburbs. Parks offer a kind of hunt with more “comfort”, including good meals and wine in a “package deal.” Such parks may belong to farmers for whom they provide an important source of income. In these diverse milieus, from forests to wheat fields, vineyards, suburbs, and “hunting parks,” boars develop different levels of proximity and habituation to humans.
In their turn, various human actors relate to boars and play a role in their lives in different ways: e.g., hunters (including ‘local hunters’ and ‘tourists’), farmers, ecological activists, and state representatives (in particular the prefect, the chief administrator of the department who is also responsible for defining local hunting regulations that will apply for each hunting season). The ‘wild boar question’ is, then, seen from different angles, and various actors emphasize different issues or different aspects of the issues at stake. For instance, the prefect insists on having the problem of the overpopulation of boars solved by giving hunters the right to kill any boar (including sows), but for many hunters it is important to respect a number of criteria that could be summed up under the term “a good hunt” (“une bonne chasse”). By presenting preliminary results of a research project that began in 2018 in the framework of the TANDEM “Bewildering Boar Project”, this paper will make an initial attempt to analyze the “hermeneutics of politics” (Reyna 2017) in this particular context.
Sebastian G. Vetter (University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna), Walter Arnold (University of Veterinary Medicine), Claudia Bieber (University of Veterinary Medicine) and Thomas Ruf (University of Veterinary Medicine)
Climatic effects on wild boar population dynamics
Although climate change is known to affect ecosystems globally, our understanding of its impact on large mammals is still sparse. Further, there is limited knowledge of the effect of climate change on local populations of widespread species. We investigated large-scale and long-term effects of climate change on local population dynamics using the wild boar (Sus scrofa) as a model species. We show that, across Europe, wild boar population increases over the last 150 years are strongly associated with an increase in average winter temperatures. Additionally, the negative effects of cold winters on population growth can be completely outweighed by beech masting events, which provide important food resources and occur with increasing frequency due to climate change. For the first time, we demonstrate that wild boars are locally adapted to prevailing conditions, as the minimum winter temperature required for a population to grow was lower in colder than in warmer regions. We conclude that physiological trade-offs between seasonal requirements for thermoregulation and energy turnover shape local adaptations, such as a significantly increased body mass in colder regions. Thus, seasonality and local adaptations need to be considered in attempts to predict a species’ response to climate change.