A winemaker in southern France is seeking noisy campers to stay close to his vines in a bid to scare wild boar away and is offering free wine to seal the deal.
The Domaine de Terre Mégère vineyard in Cournonsec, between Sète and Montpellier (Hérault, Occitanie), is regularly ravaged by the animals, who love to eat the ripe grapes. In 2017, he lost up to 80 hectolitres of his harvest.
Now, the winemaker, Olivier, told France 3 Occitanie that with harvest time soon approaching, he cannot afford to miss this season.
In a bid to help the situation, he installed electric fences around the vines, but this has not been as successful as he had hoped.
He said: “They still come through despite the electric installation. The system calmed them, but we’ve been disappointed [with it].”
In desperation, he has posted on Facebook asking that “party-goers” stay near the vines to “scare the boar”.
He opened the invitation to “partiers, people barefoot, in a van, on bikes, on foot…in a tent, a hammock, or sleeping under the stars”, and said they could “squat next to our vines, for one day, two, or 10… between now and the end of August, to try to intimidate the boar…”.
He said it was a “major plus” if you have “dogs or are very loud”. “There is no shade, but there is a pretty view, there is running (non-drinking) water, but no electricity.”
And finally, he promised: “We will give you free wine!”
Band of Bretons
The winemaker’s announcement quickly attracted more than 50 applicants in a few days.
Olivier selected a group of four friends from Brittany, who are staying in a camper van. They told France 3 that they are taking their anti-boar mission seriously.
One of the group, Enzo, joked: “We came to have fun, but also to fight wild boars. We make musical rounds every two or three hours around the vines. It’s enough to scare the boar away without disturbing the neighbours, especially as they are very far away.”
The group has a sound system and plays music each evening in a bid to deter the animals further.
Wild boar controversy
Wild boar are often controversial in France, especially when they approach urban homes and destroy vegetation.
There are often fierce debates and disagreements over who should pay for any damage and whose responsibility they are. Some people welcome them and are happy to have them eat from rubbish bins, while others would prefer to keep them away at all costs.
Wild boar numbers are generally regulated close to cities in France via official hunts with specially-authorised hunters. Individual shooting may also be permitted to protect crops, sometimes at the request of the local mairie.