Listed on the World Conservation Union’s most invasive species list, wild boars are thriving across the world. Their numbers have swelled to the point that in some cities, they have become a dangerous nuisance.
Depending on where you live on the planet, the wild boar (Sus scrofa), is also called the Eurasian wild pig, wild swine or wild pig. The wild boar is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene, outcompeting other suid species so that today, they are found on every continent except Antarctica.
It was human intervention that allowed for the spread of wild boars across the world and the wily mammal proved to be very adaptable to any kind of environment. You can find the suid living in semi-arid plains, alpine forests, and marshy grasslands. But a warming climate, improvements in agriculture and declining predators have allowed for their numbers to swell.
There is another factor to consider as more and more wild boars invade city streets and neighborhoods. Urbanization and the human invasion into what was once the natural habitat for many wild animals, including the boars has caused them to be displaced. And it was only natural that the boars moved into our cities.
The Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig. As shown in his natural habitat. Richard Bartz
Now, it has become common to see wild boars roaming the streets, backyards, and parks in cities like Barcelona and Berlin, and Houston and Hong Kong, In Rome, boars rooting through uncollected piles of trash are a commonplace sight, indicative of the decline of the city, according to the Guardian.
It is estimated that the wild boar population in Europe numbers in excess of 10 million animals. And boars are very resilient. Experts say that if a wild boar population drops by 90 percent, it can still recover in three years. In order to survive, three conditions are needed: Some heavy brush to protect them from predators, water for drinking and bathing, and an absence of regular snowfall.
Disease and destructive behavior
Wild boars carry diseases. They are hosts for at least 20 different parasitic worm species, with many of them infecting humans, including Gastrodiscoides, Trichinella spiralis, Taenia solium, Balantidium coli, and Toxoplasma gondii. They also can carry ticks and hog lice.
Swine fever -- fatal to wild boar and pigs but harmless to humans -- has cut a swathe through Mongolia, Vietnam, North Korea and China GREG BAKER, AFP/File
Boars also carry a host of other diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis E, African Swine Fever, and influenza A, some of which can make the jump to humans. And while the list of diseases is bad enough, it is the destructive behavior of these animals that is so costly.
Boars cause thousands of road accidents each year around the world. In January this year, a group of wild boars crossing a highway south of Milan caused a three-car pile-up which killed one driver and injured several more. They destroy property, eat ground-nesting animals, and especially love farmers' crops. In the U.S. alone, they're thought to be responsible for more than $1 billion of crop damage every year, according to Business Insider.
The stories about wild boars carrying radioactivity died down somewhat after the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters. But even today, there are accounts of wild boars being shot that still have measurable amounts of radioactivity in the flesh.
Animals in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have not been wiped out by the nuclear fallout contaminating the land, but are actually thriving in the absence of humans, according to a new ecological study. YouTube
In 2014, tests on three wild boars shot for meat in Saxony, Germany gave off such high levels of radiation that they were unfit for human consumption. It was believed the radiation came from the Chernobyl accident in 1986 that spread a massive quantity of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.
Wind and rain carried the radioactivity across western Europe, and soil contamination was found as far away as France. Then, there was the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. A 12-mile "No Go" zone encompasses Fukushima, and no one is allowed to reside within the area.
There is already some evidence that genetic mutations are on the rise in butterflies from the Fukushima area, producing deformations in their wings, legs, and eyes. Wild boars moved into the exclusion zone, and for several years, they did have some levels of radioactivity in their flesh.
Insects can spread radiation Daniel Boyington
Keep in mind that the radioactivity in the boars is due to their diet. They are not that particular in what they consume, eating everything from garbage to small animals and crops. They are particularly affected because they root through the soil for food, stirring up the soil and eating any roots they come across.
What to do about the radiation problem? Germany's radioactive boar problem is not expected to go away any time soon. With the levels of contamination still showing in tests, experts predict it could be around for another 50 years. And the same could be said about Japan's radioactive boars, too.