Hunter dies after being charged by boar in south of France

The animals can be very aggressive when wounded or threatened

Wild boars may charge if they feel threatened
Published Last updated

A hunter has died after being attacked by a wild boar during a hunt near Béziers in Hérault.

The 80-year-old man was found in a state of cardiac arrest, with a dead boar beside him and a severe wound to his thigh on Saturday (November 4).

The wound is thought to have been caused by a gunshot as he defended himself from a charging boar during the private hunt.

The man was immediately airlifted to hospital but died of his injuries on Sunday (November 5).

“This type of accident is rare", Max Alliès, the President of the Hérault hunting federation told Midi Libre.

“A joint inquest into the matter will be carried out by the Police Nationale and the Office français de la biodiversité,” he said.

Read more: Hunting season opens in many areas of France: what's good to know

How dangerous are wild boars?

This incident, which resulted in the death of an armed and experienced hunter, is a reminder of how dangerous wild boars can be.

Their razor sharp tusks, which protrude from under their jaws, grow throughout their life and boars are adept at using them for foraging and defending themselves.

Boars that have been wounded or feel threatened can charge, particularly if their young are present.

However, Hervé Santerre, then-director of Amnéville Zoo, told Le Républicain Lorraine in an interview in 2018 that boars actually have a very defensive mentality.

“They are more startled by our presence than we are by theirs,” he said. “You have to maintain a neutral body language, not running or trying to approach or follow them, all of which are seen as aggression.

“But they can effectively become very dangerous if a sow feels that her young are under threat. This can happen even without you doing anything, just by walking nearby. In those situations boars can charge.

“If that happens you should stand against a tree or climb on top of something. In any case, the boar will give up quickly,” he said. “Don’t forget that we represent danger for them.”

‘Wounded boars charge’

The attack this week follows a dangerous situation last month.

On October 8, 2023, a boar that had presumably been hit by a car, took to charging at locals in the village of Villeveyrac (Hérault).

Carole Bonzi and her infant son were attacked by the animal.

“I kept turning my son’s pushchair around to keep him safe,” she told France 3.

“And there I was trying to kick the boar away with my legs as if it were a dog.”

Ms Bonzi, who was lightly wounded, successfully drove the boar away and kept her son safe.

The mayor of the commune, Christophe Morgo, arrived at the scene, and was himself charged by the boar.

Mr Morgo, a hunter, jumped into his car and reached for his rifle.

“I rolled my window down and shot twice,” he said.

‘More than a million boars in France’

According to Raphaël Mathevet from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, or CNRS, the number of wild boars has increased dramatically over the past 50 years. There are more than a million present in France today.

In 2022, they were responsible for 30,000 car accidents, and an estimated €35m of damage to farmland.

Read more:

Hunters who receive state funding in France must report how it is used

How can I keep wild boar away from my property?