16 Dec 2008

Wild Boar Controversy in Berlin

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Berliners, the Wall Street Journal reports, have a bigger problem than the pesky white-tailed deer infesting American suburbs these days.

Berlin’s wooded parks, suburbs and increasingly mild winters make it Europe’s capital city for sus scrofa, the wild, tusked ancestor of the domestic pig. The booming population of porkers has Germans on the run, reversing the natural order of things.

Boars like to dig up worms and grubs with their snouts, churning manicured gardens into muddy battlefields. They’ve plowed up parks, cemeteries and even the training ground of Berlin’s major-league soccer team, Herta BSC.

he swine are an obstacle on Berlin’s streets, where 211 have died in traffic accidents in the past eight months. But despite the porcine problem, part of Berlin’s human population is siding with the boars against those who shoot them. Urban hunters have been beaten with sticks, called “murderers” and had their tires slashed. Mr. Eggert once had to call for police protection when a crowd of young partygoers, enraged after he shot a boar that had been wounded by a car, threatened to beat him up.

The boars are usually peace-loving. But 250-pound adults armed with sharp, upward-curving tusks can be dangerous if they think they’re cornered. In October, when hunters shot a tusker in a cornfield south of Berlin, the wounded animal counterattacked, killing one man and injuring another who’d come to finish it off. Every year in Berlin several dogs are gored to death after rashly challenging boars to a fight. On one occasion, three boars got lost in a day-care center on Alexanderplatz in the heart of Berlin and panicked. The children hadn’t arrived for the day yet, but the boars nearly gored the janitor.

The growing threat to life, limb and lawns has led Berlin to take extraordinary measures. In 2002, City Hall began appointing special Stadtjäger, or “urban hunters.” …

Hunters have shot over 500 boars in urban areas since April, but boar numbers keep rising. Up to 7,000 now live in the city.

slideshow

2:23 video

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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