Why are there more boars in France in 2024 - and will it continue?

Farmers around the country report increased damage from the animals

Boars can find more abundant food due to the mild winters, meaning more of their young survive
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The growing number of wild boars in France is causing increasing damage to farmland around the country, and many can now be seen wandering around towns. We look at why this is happening and why it is likely to get worse.

In October 2023, a 100 farmers and hunters gathered in front of the prefecture in Rouen in Seine-Maritime (Normandy) to demand action over the growing numbers of boars.

That summer, boars had ravaged 500 hectares of farmland and both farmers and hunters demanded that the prefecture grant them the right to kill more.

That authorisation was granted. However despite killing up to 30% more in some areas, and a total of 8,600 in the department since the hunting season opened in September, the damage to farmland has only grown worse.

In a report on the problem on February 28, 2024, the prefecture noted that “2024 has seen no change to the damage”, the majority of which is “concentrated in the area of Eu, Clères and Les Loges".

To address the problem of boars roaming the town’s streets, the Rouen mairie has been forced to take a drastic step.

“We have made the decision to buy a cage trap,” the mairie told France 3 Normandie. “But we had experimented with a few things first: rigid fencing between rue Lausanne and rue Maurice-Leblanc, land-clearing, and educating the public on good-practices.”

However, Normandy is by no means the only region with an out-of-control boar population.

In the south-west, farmers in Lot launched an appeal on February 22 for more state aid to pay for the increasing damage caused by boars, and for more freedom to hunt them.

In response, the prefecture said it would look into authorising year-round hunting.

Read more: Farmers plead for help over increase in boars in south-west France

Why are wild boar numbers growing?

There are more than a million wild boars present in France today with few natural predators to curb their numbers despite the reintroduction of wolves and bears.

“The elimination of predators such as wolves and lynxes in the first half of the 20th century is only part of the reason [for the growing number of wild boars],” Raphaël Mathevet from the French research body CNRS told France 3.

“Farmers also stopped using land that was less fertile or inaccessible, meaning it was reclaimed by forests, which are the hideouts and food sources for boars.”

A joint study by the l’Office français de la biodiversité (OFB) and the CNRS suggests that the growing wild boar population is rather a side effect of a bigger problem: climate change.

The mild winters of recent years means the boars’ food sources are more abundant, according to a study by the state research institute CNRS and the French wildlife bureau l’Office français de la biodiversité (OFB), which means that more young boars survive, and those that do, grow faster.

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