I’ve written about them before and I’ll probably write about them again, for while ever wild boar enjoy our garden I’ll have blog material. Here we go again!
A couple of weeks ago a neighbour decided to call the local hunting association to organise a cull of wild boar in our area. She’s one of those neighbours; taking it upon herself to represent the lane, with or without the approval of the rest of us. This can be good of course, people like this are needed I guess, but in this case no one was consulted, just presented with the fact that there would be a hunt in the lane one Thursday afternoon at 5 pm. A HUNT, involving guns and dogs and bullets flying and slaughter! Pretty much in our gardens – at exactly the time children would be walking home from school! We do not live deep in the forest. We live on a quiet, village, dead-end lane of 10 houses.
Now I have very mixed feelings about the whole hunting issue. I’m not against it per se but I don’t like the idea of killing a wild animal, and certainly not just for sport. I do understand culls though and realise they can be necessary. If the meat is then eaten at least there is some purpose. But all this on my front doorstep is another issue altogether. Too bloody close for comfort. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if a boar came crashing out of the forest into the garden with a bullet chasing it. If the bullet missed the beast it would continue on its trajectory into what? Our wall? A window? The car? A child? The potential for disaster seemed high, hunting in an urban setting.
So I thought I’d better do some research, and I discovered some astonishing facts. France is the number 1 country in Europe for hunting (that didn’t surprise me). It is the second most popular “sport” in France after football, with 1,343,000 registered members of clubs (to football’s 2,225,595 and tennis’es 1,125,201. Figures from 2009). That did surprise me. Now for the really hard stuff: there are around 200 hunting accidents a year. The majority of these accidents are serious resulting in amputation or paralysis and 20-30 people are killed every year! Last year was a particularly mortal year with 57 people killed in hunting accidents. I find this phenomenal. These deaths barely make the news.
This did nothing to assuage my misgivings about the proposed hunt in the backyard, so to speak. But as it was going to go ahead all I could do was to make sure my children were safe. They were delighted to be driven home that day and not have to walk! I wanted to be safely inside before the shooting began. And I have to say they were pretty excited at the whole prospect of the hunt. Boys, guns…I don’t get it, but they do! So the Thursday loomed around and 5 o’clock came and went and just as we were about to give up, thinking it must have been cancelled, a whole load of pick-ups, vans and beaten-up cars pulled up right outside our gate. Out jumped 8 men in orange fluo, a number of excited dogs, a lot of testosterone and plenty of guns. Amusingly hunters have to wear high-visibility fluorescent vests to help limit accidents which rather makes a mockery of their camouflage clothing underneath! And off they went into the forest behind the house. We watched and listened for a while but saw and heard nothing until they reappeared less than an hour later, empty-handed, got back in their vehicles and drove off. Not a single shot was fired so fears of stampeding boars were somewhat misplaced.
However, a while later there was a knock at the door and we were handed a leg and large part of the belly of a freshly slaughtered boar. The leg still had its hoof and a lot of hair! Really not my kind of thing. Apparently, the hunters had relocated to the other side of the wood and shot four rogue animals. We hadn’t heard a thing and I found the timing suspiciously quick, to have managed to move location, hunt down the boars, kill them, haul them back to the trucks, take them to wherever they butchered them and return to us all within about an hour. But then if this hadn’t happened, why on earth would they pretend it had and where did they get the stock of sanglier just waiting to be handed out? So assuming the animals had been killed in our locality, you can’t get fewer food miles or more locally sourced food than that, can you? Organic too. We’ve put our lot in the freezer for now and having discussed it with the neighbours (who were also given a supply of meat) we’re thinking it’ll be the perfect thing to eat at our street party, la fête des voisins, next year!
After all this, the last word has to go to the wild boar though, as they’ve been back most nights this week and have done far more damage than ever before. They’ve dug up large parts of the lawn and burrowed through fences. Is this revenge? Pigs are supposed to be intelligent animals aren’t they? Do you have wild animals in your property? What do you do about it? What do you think about hunting them? I’d love to hear your stories and opinions.
Thanks for the answer, Phoebe. I thought you couldn’t shoot in your garden, but you never know! Things are different in France.
Yes you have to have a gun licence and the season has specific dates. I’m no expert but I imagine there must be rules about how close to habitation you can shoot, I’m sure you’re not allowed to just shoot like crazy in your own garden! But honestly I’m afraid I don’t know. The hunters that came to do the cull in my area had a specific licence to do exactly that, it wasn’t a regular thing.
Hello! I am wondering if you have a licence to shoot bore and it is the season to shoot, are you allowed to shoot them in your garden if they come in? Just to clarify, I do not want to do this myself. I am writing a script with a rather maniacal character in it – and I would like it to be as realistic as possible in terms of laws etc..
Hunting is never at night here Andrea, it’s always during the day and I can assure you that our local boars are very active during the day. We regularly see them in the garden in daylight and yes, there was another cull this year in August 2014.
I don’t think regular hunts can go so close to houses but this was a special cull which I guess got special dispensation. Luckily this isn’t normal!
We have plenty wild boar around where I am too. TheyÂ´re more active at night. So why would the hunt convene during daytime?
IÂ´ve stumbled on your blog via Eco-Gites of Lenault a year after the original post. Did the hunt come back this year?
Good grief, I didn’t think that French hunts were allowed to shoot near houses. They do come within a field of us but then we are right out in the middle of nowhere. Luckily also, the wild boar around here seem timid and we have never seen them (or any evidence of them) in the immediate vicinity which I am very pleased about seeing as we have our own pigs and I don’t really know how they would react together.
Many thanks for linking up with #AnimalTales – this made a very interesting read!
WOW! We have a similar situation in Ohio, USA with deer. It is certainly a scary time.
Ah ha, another place with a pig problem! The meat can be good if it’s marinated for a while and cooked very slowly for a long time.
Racoons and skunks – more animals that don’t exist in France. I love it that my readers all have different types of pests!!
Another interesting comment form another part of the world. We don’t get elk here either, but riding in the woods would be alarming during hunting season I can see that.
It’s funny to think of wild turkeys; they don’t exist in Europe, seems very exotic to me! Luckily the hunters aren’t out on the loose often!!!
Yes, the outcome could have been very different!
This is quite the story Phoebe, oh my! We don’t have many wild animals around our house but I have friends that are visited quite often by racoons.
Also skunks are not unusual in this part of Canada and we often smell them if they are around. Luckily I never got to see one of them up close 🙂
We don’t exactly have the wild animals on our backyard – but they are not far away. It is soon elk hunting time over here. I don’t hunt but I ride in the woods so I don’t like the hunting bit too much. But of course the meat is good.
OMG! I can NOT even imagine this happening in my back yard…the wildest it gets around here is deer and turkeys. For this too happen in a neighborhood with children up and down the street is absolutely insane. Very interesting read. I think I would be afraid that I would meet up with one of those jokers when I went out my backdoor….I would be taking my taser out with me….turning from side to side…on guard for an attack…lol.
I come from a big family of hunters but for the most part we always eat the game that is hunted. A couple years ago my 2 oldest boys did some boar hunting in Texas when we were on a work project trip because they had become such a problem for the ranchers & farmers out there. Unfortunately the meat wasn’t the best – kind of tough!
This all sounds absolutely horrific. Good thing the outcome was as it was. The boars are a bore but come on this is no way to treat them.