Tuesday, 18 October 2011

What to do in an Encounter with a Wild Boar

A wild boar encounter can get your heart racing. 

Even experienced boar watchers continue to feel some adrenaline when boars come close, not just because they are large and supposedly unpredictable, but to have a large native wild animal so close is without doubt one of the best wildlife experiences you are likely to have in the UK.

But to some people, their closeness creates intolerable anxiety.  For whatever reason this exists, here is a typical example of an encounter in the hope it will help to relieve the fear.

You will be walking along a track, hopefully paying some attention to the beauty around, when up in front you see some dark shapes moving slowly at the verge.  They never stay still, walking about slowly as though they are searching for something.

You squint to see if they are dogs or sheep, but you see a tail swish. It's about the size of a sheep, maybe a bit smaller.  You start to realise these are boar.

Your scent will soon give you away, for Wild Boar have an incredible sense of smell.  When they pick it up you will see their noses go up, sniffing the air to get a sense of your direction.  This is often close to the end of the encounter, so take your photos now!

At least one of the boars will become more active now, usually a juvenile, and will walk towards you, maybe a little nervous, sometimes turning round to return to the others.  The move towards you is for a better look, for they have very poor eyesight.  Others may soon join in.  It may take just a few seconds for this to happen.

Now, this is not aggression.  They are not ganging up on you, but are being brave and facing their potential threat.  They are like children now, excited and about to be proud of warning mum that they have spotted you.  Mum may now join in, sniffing you and deciding whether to walk or run away.   If she decides to run, she will belt out a loud grunt or snort, and turn tail.  At this moment, all the younger boar will also flee at high speed away from you.  It's all rush and noise, and you hear feet stampeding away.  That's usually it.

Mum may stop shortly afterwards and take another look at you, maybe even walk back towards you.  Again, this is not aggression.  She is saying to you, "You saw how fast we are so don't bother following."  She will either stay and start feeding again, or if you move towards her in the hope of a photo, she will grunt again and run.

You may have stumbled across a much tamer boar.  In this instance the boar may come very close.  However, small piglets who have not yet learnt from mum to fear humans, can also approach very close.

Sadly, thanks to some people who have fed the boar, this boar may walk straight at you in the hope of another handout.  If you don't want this, stand tall and shout at her.  Move towards her confidently but not aggressively, and she will probably move out of your way.  If she follows you don't panic but keep walking away - she will soon get fed up.  Just be confident, if she is tame she will not hurt you.

The fear of a boar attack has become legendary.  Try and remember where this fear came from and you will soon remember something you read in the press, or was it the story from a friend of their encounter?  How did their encounter end?  Like the above we bet.  Sadly, stories over the centuries from hunters have led to charicatures of charging boar with big tusks.  Woe on the hunter who was afraid of such a docile creature.  Better that he makes a story up of how fearsome the boar was, and how brave he was to kill it!

There are youtube videos of boar attacks.  Take a look at how aggressive humans are, but be warned, they are not nice videos.  Nearly all attacks are upon hunters who are cornering boar, or sending dogs to rip up the boar, or boar who have been pinned down by dogs and humans and are being stabbed with knives, or wounded by crossbows or an inadequate bullet.

Even in these terrible circumstances for the boar, the boar attack is very fast and is not a charge made from many metres away.  The boar are close to the aggressor, maybe just a second or two away.  Some videos show the result of the attack.  A male thrusts upwards from the ground leaving cuts to the legs of the hunter before dashing off.   This is the usual sort of video, as it is the males that hunters prefer.  But males are far more shy than females and it is a very rare incident for a male boar to attack a human, even a hunter.  Males do not stand their ground to attack.  But females may if their piglets are threatened.

A female bites you.  Her head doesn't lower. Instead, look for her shackles on the shoulders to rise and maybe her tail stand erect.  She will also growl.  If ever you see this sign, move away confidently, maybe reassuring her with soft words rather than screams or shouts.  You may sometimes hear a growl from scrub where she is hiding with her piglets.  If you ever hear growling in the scrub, don't wait to see her, go back immediately from where you came.

This is where dogs are a problem.  If the female is nervous, and the dog is growling, barking or pulling at the lead, she may instinctively feel provoked and go for the dog.

It is testament to the boar that no dog owner has ever been targeted along with their dog.  This should hopefully reassure us all that the boar mean no harm to well-meaning humans.  If you have a nervous or aggressive dog and you come across a boar, it is very wise that you leave the area as quietly and quickly as possible.  Again, a boar will not charge from hundreds of metres away, only from close quarters.

If boar come close, keep aggressive dogs on the lead.  Maybe let the more sensible dogs free so they can keep away.  Above all, don't panic.  They may pick-up on your fear and agitation.  Almost all boar will not attack a well-behaved dog.

If you are surprised by a boar coming out of the trees onto your path, you may feel it more appropriate to let the dog off the lead.  The boar has appeared because it has scented your dog and wants a closer look.  The dog is probably faster than the boar, and provided the dog does not attack, it will probably remain unscathed.  Only do this if,  1. you know your dog will not attack the boar, and 2. the boar is very close already with hackles raised showing agitation.  Otherwise, keep the dog on the lead and walk away quickly.

Finally, here is a video of a recent encounter in the Forest of Dean.  It is five juveniles who have obviously had their mother shot.  You can hear the girl getting excited and also very anxious.  This is very normal of a first close encounter.  These boar are quite unafraid (with mum dead they will have to learn about humans the hard way) and do not run away as quickly as most.  See how their noses and hackles go up.  Sadly, she suggests throwing them some food.  This is perhaps due to her conditioning of wanting to feed animals. [Edit: She has contacted FOTB to say she was worried the boar hadn't seen her or partner so she wanted to feed them to alert the boar to human presence and so stop them having a heart attack - see comments below.]  As you see though, boar rarely accept food.

Please don't feed the boar!  Just enjoy their company with excitement and a sense of privelege.  Very few animals in the UK are as intelligent as these.  They are learning to live with us very quickly.  Can you learn to live with them?  We hope so.

David J Slater


  1. Sorry that you singled us out as a threat to Boar welfare? That is very far from the case.

    We have good experience of Boar. My partner's comments on the audio-track were a nervous reaction to them coming so close.

    It was, I believe, unfair to embed our video, to illustrate your particular viewpoint about feeding them. We meant no harm. And this video has brought some delight to those unfamiliar with these wonderful Mammals.

    I rustled the bag to stop them coming closer. It is well known that Boar and domestic pigs are prone to potentially lethal results from extreme stress (ie. myocardial infarcts.) This would have possibly occured if they had come even closer, and suddenly realised we were right next to them.

    It would seem that perhaps you have made a strong, misguided judgement on our behalf? That is a shame. And a shame also that you should embed our video to highlight certain points about feeding Boar, and therefore misrepresenting us, and, especially, my partner in the process.

    As we all know, the internet is a public place. Defamatory comments can be viewed by all. But public reputations can also be damaged on both our parts.

    So, I publically ask you, nicely, please, either keep our video as a promotion for Boar in Britain, and ammend your prose in reference to it. Or remove it, and un-embed it. And no more will be said.

    Perhaps, an apology is also in order to my partner. She was very upset by your misrepresentation of her.

    And, in future? Please contact us if you wish to make such defamatory statements when using our footage.

    A shame really. As we seem both to be on the side of Sus scrofa...

    But hey! It's easy to forget real people are often involved on the net...:(

  2. Dear Phil (?), I'm sorry you and your partner have interpreted the piece this way as it was meant to be educational by showing others a typical encounter (this is the title of the piece).

    I too will answer you in public.

    I was personally delighted with your video as I'm sure many others will be. As you have confirmed, you became anxious with the closeness of the encounter and this is what I could tell. However, your explanation above is not what I expected!

    I wanted to show how an encounter usually goes in order to dispel fear. Getting an adrenaline buzz can be enjoyable.

    Some people, sadly,interpret adrenaline as a bad experience because they have been led to believe boar are dangerous.

    Your video shows otherwise. It is not a cherry picked video to use as propaganda, but what I see as a very nice video that shows how an encounter usually goes - and ends - with the boar running away. I can also sense your partner's apprehension in it.

    With the feeding, I only posed the question of "perhaps" you wanted to feed them because this is often a natural reaction with some people who care for animals.

    At 3:33 the girl says firmly "give them some food".

    I accept this was "possibly" meant to save the boars from having a heart attack, but again, this is "perhaps" a natural reaction for some people and I hope to educate that this also is not what anyone should do.

    I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that boar are not as delicate a creature as you may think. Maybe domestic pigs are (I've limited experience with domestic animals), but these are true wild boar and will not suffer at the sight of humans.

    I will change the wording soon, but I sincerely hope you see now that I love your video and your enthusiasm for the boar. Of course I do not think you were maliciously threatening to the boar because you wanted to feed them. Feeding does not in itself kill them but what people don't realise is their capacity to learn that humans hand out food and this soon gets them in front of a gun.

    Finally, I know only too well that "real people" are involved in the issue of wild boar. This is the MAIN premise for this blog. People are complex creatures and I want to use the internet to talk to "real people" in a way that educates as well as sometimes shows just how passionate many people are about the boar.

    Please accept my apology for the misunderstanding, and I hope you will be happy to let the blog keep your video. Our comments may also add something positive to the article if only to highlight just how complex the boar debate is, and how complex "real people" are!

  3. Dear Phil (?), I forgot to ask you for your email so I may contact you in the future. Could you please email me (address is in Friends of the Boar - "About US" section), and I would obviously like to know if my reply is adequate.


    David J Slater

  4. I am so scared of wild bore, but this helped a lot I jjst thought that they attack and kill u but now I know this I am much more confidant taking my sheep for a walk in the woods now thank u
    Kind reagards

  5. The boar in the forest are 400 years too late, Our lifestyles and homes have changed in the large period of time without boar. They cause considerable damage and are a high safety risk to road users, Yes, the right approach to a boar when coming across one will cause very little distress, but it's all of the other negatives associated with this wild animal that people are concerned about. You cannot compare them to any other animal like deer etc. we've always had deer in Great Britain. Wild boar do not have natural predators, and their population is now out of control, I know how these animals breed, and there are far more roaming the forest etc than estimated by any 'organisation'.

    1. Yes, at least 400 years too late, but the reason they have become so successful is because the forest is their natural environment.
      Yes, they can be a bit of a pain blocking my gate with turf and I have to modify walking with my dogs most days, always be alert, but I have come into contact with countless boar over past few years, and they they have not bothered me, sure they chased my dogs when they were untrained pups, (one of my border terriers was trampled when she was 16 weeks), but soon learned her lesson) but have no problems generally. Dog owners take note, keep your dogs under control and don't let off lead unless very well trained.
      The introduction of Lynx would be beneficial, as they will hunt hoglets, thus keeping population numbers manageable.

  6. Wild boar are destructive animals, Just drive through the Forest of Dean and take a look at the roadsides....in areas of France etc that are highly populated by boar, you will NOT see this kind of devastation...Too many in a small area.....And now I see there are Boar hunt Sabs...! These mindless idiots are obviously vegetarians from the town...What is happening to this country ? people need to be educated in these matters. Maybe these 'sabs' should be put in a pen with a sow and piglets, they'd soon change their minds... or maybe have a nice garden in the forest, or a crop field..?

  7. Very useful article! Here in Spain boars are quite common, and rural people usually say that they are very dangerous, and that a female with piglets (baby boars?) will attack you just because, even if you don't bother her piglets. They also say that a wounded boar will ALWAYS attack any human in sight.

    I thought that was pure nonsense, and judging from this blog, it seems like I was right! Boars are very widespread and common in Spain. They are a very typical creature in the Mediterranean ecosystems. Yet, I have never heard of a boar attack!

    So yeah, boars being bloody and dangerous towards humans seems to be just a superstition and an urban legend... or a rural legend, I guess. Sadly, most of the information I found in Spanish on the Internet were unfunded repetitions of that lie, so I decided to search about this topic in English... and here I am! I guess you Brits can judge this animal more objectively, as it isn't as common in the UK and therefore its image is not as distorted.

    Greetings and thanks!

  8. I am glad to find this blog, as very recently I was in a French forest, climbing up through the trees over rocky terrain, and had just gazed over a valley. I turned back and suddenly saw a massive boar, with long thin white tusks pointing along its muzzle. It had come along the narrow path and looked surprised (as was I). I admired it but immediately I felt anxious, as though I was trespassing (I really thought it might charge at me). I quickly began climbing back up the steep rocky slope into the forest. My heart was thumping wildly and I didn't stop feeling afraid until I left the forest. It was in the Haute Loire. I judged "my" boar to be the size of a small cow (but my friend says this is ridiculous!) I wish I had a photo to prove its size and appearance as most of the ones online look scruffy and grotesquely ugly. This one looked in excellent condition!
    Now I feel very lucky to have come across one...

  9. Hi
    I have a steep, terraced olive grove which is being devastated by wild boar. It is a lot of work to rebuild my terraces only to be torn down again. Only last night I chased off a family of boar 10m from the house. Do you know of any natural repellents? For example I heard some people use chilli to deter elephants. Do you know anything that could help me?

    1. Sorry for the late response Nikki, we ahve been busy trying to shoo a boar off that keeps visiting a garden here in the Forest of Dean!

      In this instance, a more secure fence was the answer and removal of apples from a neighbours garden.

      Time is usually the only answer. Boar seem to quickly get use to anything you put down to deter them. Washing-up liquid soaked into the grass sometimes works - but may affect the worms in the grass that the boar are after! Those ultrasonic cat repellents have also been known to work, but again we think the boar soon learn to ignore.

      The best deterrent of all is a good strong fence. A dog, also, would work.

      You wrote a month ago and we would be interested to hear how ling the boar stayed on your terraces.

      Where the terraces growing fruit of any sort? Fruit or anything fermenting will always be a big draw for boar.

      Best Wishes,

  10. I live in the Alpujarras in Spain. I encounterd a wild female boar on a very steep narrow path while walking my dog, and cat. I spotted it about 15 feet away in the bushes. I started to walk back up the path, she turned and started to run towards me. I could not run as it was too steep, it got about 6 feet close, I panicked and pushed a large stone down the slope towards it and yelled and waved my arms about. My legs went to 'jelly' and I did not stop shaking for a few days! I have dreams about the encounter and I am now too afraid to walk my dog down the mountain now. There were hunters that day, and locals say it is unusual to see a boar so close, and they will run away. The female was on her own, no babies. Will I ever get over my fear?

  11. hi are there any sounds that would scare a wild boar? If they are messing with crops could I trigger a sound using motion sensors to scare them away?

    1. The sound of a twelve guage firing works well...but after a while they get used to it. Then you have to really shoot them and things get really ugly because, well, pighide is tough. So no there really isn't.... except maybe a 50cent album at full blast.

  12. Thank you for this. I live in a rural area, and very recently, 3 boar have escaped from a local farm. They are all large, fully grown adults. My friend who has a lurcher says they are as tall as the dog, so big. I haven't seen them. I was today out walking at dusk, when I realised that they were within about 20 metres of me. I couldn't see them as it was too dark in the woods, but I could hear them roaring and bellowing and tearing up the ground... my god when you are alone in a dark wood at night and can't see the animals that is a terrifying sound! I like what you say about remembering where your fear comes from. I knew a man who had half his hand bitten off by a domestic pig he had reared from birth when he suprised it. I also knew of a farmer who had mental health problems and didnt feed his pigs for several days, and then when he did, was met by many caged, hungry animals... not pretty! So I was terrified. I feel much, much better having read this article. We live on the only local farm that doesnt allow any hunting, and we wanted to give these boar their fair chance at freedom... However, I was so scared at that moment I wanted them gone. I feel safe going out at night now... though I will remain cautious till I've met them in daylight!!!! It is interesting... I am a specialist in European fairy tales and mythology... so much stuff about not wandering from the pathway... dark woods, night time, alone, a roaring, bellowing animal you can't see... the fear is in our evolution.

  13. From what I have seen, boars are far from what you have described, they are intimidating, brutish and destructive creatures.

  14. You are well meaning dimwits but dimwits nevertheless! Have you seen firsthand what a wild boar can do to dogs and human beings? I have. Who is the moron that came up with the idea to put aggressive dogs in lead ? You want wild boars back? Wonderful! Just know that that will cause trouble.

  15. How common are wild boars in russia.They say that is the country that has the largest and most aggressive wild boars in the world.Can anyone comment on this?

  16. thank you for this good article

  17. good article decided to look it up following an encounter with a large boar this morning when walking my dog. You would never think that a welshman with short legs could outrun a greyhound.(where are the olympic selectors when you need them). Next time I will turn around and walk away much slower has put my mind at ease, thanks

  18. Has a guy ever given you mixed signals?

    One minute he’s crazy about you and the next minute you have no clue if he ever wants to see you again?

    And it’s especially hard when there’s something special between you and you have no idea what went wrong.

    I assure you it’s nothing that you did.

    In fact, he may even care about you a great deal and still not be able to stop himself from acting this way.

    But why does this happen?

    There’s one BIG reason why men do this...

    And I discovered this eye opening video that will shed some light on this bizarre behaviour.

    Insert subject line here and link it to: <=========> Your ex won’t be able to resist?

    It all comes down to a missing “secret ingredient” that not one in a thousand women knows about...

    And it’s the biggest factor that determines whether a man just “likes” you...

    ...or if he sees you as “The One.”

    You see, this “secret ingredient” is so important to a man that no matter how attracted to you he is, or how strong your chemistry is...

    If it’s missing, he’ll never be able to truly give his heart to you...

    And he will always have an unshakeable urge to seek out a woman who has this one “secret ingredient.”

    Here’s what I’m talking about: <=========> The difference between “like” and “love” (most women miss this)

    On the other hand, when you know this powerful “secret ingredient”...

    ...you won’t believe how effortless, passionate and bulletproof your relationship can be.

    Trust me, this is going to blow you away.

    Discover it here: ==> Men fall in love with women who have this “secret ingredient”

    Thanks again.

  19. Boar is known for their wild attitude, but through the explanation to this blog I fully understand their behavior. Thank you for the great topic you shared, great job!.

    1. Most women don’t know this... but even if a man is attracted to you or even says he loves you...

      ...chances are he still feels something is missing.

      Because there is a secret, emotional need hidden within his heart that he craves more than anything.

      And in most cases, is not being met.

      The problem is, if it’s not being met, his attention will inevitably wander until he finds a woman who can give it to him.

      Maybe one in a thousand women knows how to do this instinctively, and they usually rise to unbelievable levels of influence and fame.

      But most women, or men for that matter, don’t even know it exists.

      On the other hand, when you have this 1 simple secret...

      You won’t believe the shocking effect you have on the men in your life.

      Here’s a video I discovered that shows you exactly what I’m talking about:

      Here’s how: ==> He’ll give his heart to the first woman who does THIS... ]



  20. I understood that 'problematic' encounters between humans and 'wild' mamals usualy happen when the latter are not afraid. So eighter too young without their mum like probably these 5, or familiar with harmmless humans id est: domesticated/fed/big predators with previous experiance(cfr infra).

    When they are afraid, mammals usualy spot the humans before the humans spot them and the mammals walk away.
    Walking away is a bit more complicated when you are cornered, wounded, have a dozen of courious piglets, ...

    It should be so for all mammals and even most other animals(incl snakes, but not crocodiles or alligators nor sharks). I even thought that all mammals had an instinctive fear for humans, that can be unlearned(cfr bigger predators that already fed on human flesh) rather than learned.
    A fear that can be overwon by hunger (cfr bears) and other instincts like to protect their young, the instinct to hunt some-one flee-ing, instinct to hunt wounded,...
    In elephant attacs craving for alcohol(given by humans or naturally occuring in fruits) could be a factor.
    But I could be wrong. It could explain why wild boar in big areas without humans and so without experiance with humans dont learn to be afraid as like in Russia, do not avoid human contact and are thus cosidered more dangerous

  21. Thanks a lot for this good idea,

  22. Dear David J Slater,a wild male boar followed me home from a forest (I live in Umbria, Italy, but am from Ireland) and came right to our door. It is as high as my knee and is very powerful, almost able to knock me over. My friends fed it. Today is the second day it has been with us. It stayed the night outside my door. It went away for the day, but came back. I am diabetic and use insulin derived from pigs. I think that this is the reason it followed us. It likes me more than my two friends. It acts like a dog that climbs on you to mate with you. We want it to go back to the wild. Please give me your advice. They are hunted here, it is a big tradition. Thank you so much.

    1. I am right now wild Camping in Tuscany, it is 11pm pitch black. Wild pigs are here. I have met two and they didn't attack me but locals tell me they will attack to kill me. If you have one in Italy as a pet you need to hide it in a place no one knows. My old landlord had one as a pet in his basement lol...

  23. Just walking the dogs today in Limoges when a mother and her 7 adolescents ran out from the brush directly in front of us. What an experience. Wondering whether the author can advise us on how to train our dogs with regards. We have a lurcher who will catch a deer and an Australian cattle dog. We cannot lead them all the time on our land. Our lurcher has caught a hoglett before. Not too worried for him but our previous dog did have 30 stitches from a male (during hunting season though) we have previously hurded with our heeler so we're concerned he will run at them.

  24. Any advise on training the heeler to be more fearful?!

  25. Yeah...um...if you run into a sow and her piglets, you need to back away slowly and leave the area. Sows with offspring are very aggressive and will attack without provocation. So follow this article's advice of bonding with Momma pig and her piglets at your own peril.

  26. I went on hike in Savannah GA. And I was about 1 mile back in the woods. I came to spot by the swamp and could hear grunts in the swamp. I listened for about 5 minutes and the grunts got fainter. I wasn't scared but I did want to be safe. And just wasn't sure about their behavior. I'm out in the woods by myself all the time and just want remain safe.I think I will carry some pepper spray as a deterant . And there are gators out there too. Some folks keep bees out there for honey , so I don't know if there are black bear in the area. But I will invest in some pepper spray just in case. I don't want to become a stitistic. I welcome all comments regarding this thread. Thanks.

  27. Really, the content you have put in your post is very beautiful and thoughtful, it is a very good post, I would like to read such post again and again, I get a lot of inspiration.
    VIP Girls
    escort service gurugram

    call girl gurugram
    Gurugram escorts

  28. i like your comment very much, keep share us like this. you are such a nice person thanks for givings us knowladgable things
    Gurgaon Female Escorts
    Call Girls Gurugram
    Gurugram Call Girls
    Beauty Call Girls
    Russian Escorts Gurugram

  29. A good post is always beneficial, as your post is making the same effect. Your post is very knowledgeable. I was quite surprised to see your post that you can see such a good post even today. Hope you You will continue to provide similar posts to us as well. Thank you.
    Gurgaon Call Girls
    Escorts Service Gurugram
    Call GIrls In Gurugram
    Gurgaon Call Girls

  30. You shared nice Information with us. It will help everyone. Keep posting Blogs so that we can get to know such useful Pieces of information
    Escorts Girls Sector 2
    Escorts Girls Sector 1
    Escorts Girls Sector 3
    Escorts Girls sector 4
    Call Girls Dlf Phase 5
    Call Girls Sikanderpur
    Call Girls Leisure Valley Park