How to keep boars off land in France: natural ways or electric fence?

Homeowners are seeing more damage each year as numbers of the animals increase

Wild boars enter gardens looking for food, water, shelter and sometimes to escape from hunters
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The number of wild boars in France has soared in recent years meaning more and more are rampaging through gardens, destroying lawns and upturning plantations. We look at what you can do to keep them out.

The precise population of boars in France is unknown. The CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) estimates there are more than a million of them, however, despite hunters killing 800,000 in 2023, the population appears to be growing.

The departments on the Mediterranean coast, such as Gard, Hérault and Alpes Maritimes have particularly dense populations of wild boars, as does the Grand Est region and Corsica.

The damage they cause is increasing too. Compensation claims from farmers have tripled in the past 30 years while the number of hunters has decreased by 30%, according to hunters at the Federation Nationale de Chasseurs.

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

Farmers can request payment for damage caused by wild boars to their crops, both from their specific insurance and via compensation claims to the departmental hunting federation.

However, damage caused to gardens is just as common and yet far less likely to lead to any form of restitution.

Read more: Can we claim on house insurance if boars damage our French garden?

Electric fences

“The only real solution is the one that farmers use: electric fences,” the Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs du Gard told The Connexion. “It can be plugged into the mains or a battery, both seem to work.

The fence needs to be robust as boars are powerful and surprisingly intelligent, capable of finding weak spots.

Read more: PHOTOS: Giant 178kg boar ‘like a bear’ found in south-west France

It should include wire mesh or be built with stiff panels, and measure at least 1.5 metres in height and be supported by poles buried deep in the ground, preferably embedded in cement.

“You need to make sure that the first wire is low enough to prevent young boars getting through. If they do, the adults will follow them no matter what.”

The voltage of the fence should not exceed 3,000 volts.

Natural solutions

To prevent boars coming into your garden you should look at why they are there. The Gard hunting federation says there are three reasons for this:

Food: If boars are upturning your garden they are there to find food. Pick up fruits and nuts that fall before boars are drawn to them and put fencing around plantations.

Water: If you have a pond, a source, a stream or even a swimming pool, this might draw them. Cover up wells, pools and ponds and put fencing in sensitive areas.

Shelter: They are attracted to deep undergrowth, such as thick brambles. You should clear these areas, however, Richard Holding from animal protection association Aspas told The Connexion that having a tidy garden and keeping a refuge space are not mutually exclusive.

“You can prevent boars from going to sensitive areas of your garden by putting up fences, but leave a natural space for them if you can,” said Mr Holding. “Boars are not aggressive creatures when they are not being hunted.

“In all the cases when boars have entered someone’s garden and have caused injuries, it was to escape hunters.”

Read more: French woman hospitalised after boar charges at her as she gardens

Alternative methods purported to repel boars include:

  • Juniper wood oil, which is also used as an anti-mite treatment for horses and chickens
  • Human urine
  • Garlic
  • Lavender

However, the Gard hunting federation said that these solutions were unpredictable and at best temporary.

The federation also warned against relying on dogs to keep out boars, which it said can be “temporarily effective” while present, but can themselves be of nuisance value and be injured by charging boars.

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