Boar panic grips Great Britain

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2007:
LONDON–“Police in Fife have issued a
warning after a wild boar escaped from the
abattoir in St Andrews,” BBC News reported on
November 28, 2006. “The public has been urged
not to approach the animal, which has large tusks
and teeth and may attack if it is cornered or
In truth, any pig can deliver a
bone-crunching bite, and any frightened boar or
sow can become deadly.
But the BBC warning was relatively
understated compared to much recent Fleet Street
hyperbole about feral European boars.

Anonymous activists claiming affiliation
with the Animal Liberation Front in December 2005
released more than 100 European boars from a farm
at Exmoor, then released 45 of the boars again
after they were recaptured. British news media
have tracked the boars’ movements ever since as
if reporting about an invading army, and have
amplified–and perhaps sensationalized–reports
of feral pig actiivity abroad.
For example, Guardian Berlin
correspondent Jess Smee reported on November 29,
2006 that “A pack of wild boars, trying to
escape from hunters, stormed two small towns in
Bavaria, biting people, knocking down a cyclist
and running amok in a boutique. Fifteen boars
caused damage worth several thousand euros in
Veitshöchheim and Margetshöchheim. Three of the
pack were shot by police. Two others were run
Alleged fellow Guardian writer Harry
Pearson a few days later, “At Changi golf course
in Singapore they have had to post warning signs
after a pair of 400-pound wild boar took up
residence in the rough. In Malaysia, jungle
pigs are considered a bigger menace to golfers
than poisonous snakes or crocodiles. The porcine
onslaught is also reported in Sweden, Canada and
France. But it is in the U.S. that feral pigs
have carried out their greatest terror campaign
against the creeping menace of golf.”
Doug Moe of the Capital Times, in
Madison, Wisconsin, traced Pearson’s claim
about a “porcine onslaught” against golf back to
a hypothetical remark by a rural Wisconsin
legislator whose antipathy toward feral pigs is
actually rooted in his experience of pigs doing
crop damage to farms.
Elizabeth Nash, Madrid correspondent for
The Independent, was a bit more restrained in
reporting on November 26, 2006 that “The boar
has come down from haunts in the mountains
northwest of the Spanish capital to roam the
leafy avenues and walled mansions of Madrid’s
high-end suburbs. Despite their fearsome tusks
and grumpy character,” Nash stipulated, “boars
are not aggressive unless wounded or provoked.”

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