Boar threat stymies city hall

Take note – story published 8 years ago

The Riga City Council deliberated Wednesday over what to do about the growing urban wild boar nuisance and potential threat to public health and safety.

Both the Housing and Environment as well as the Living Natural Resources departments of city hall concluded that it might take at least another month to establish the proposed hunting coordination committee.

Meanwhile hunters and animal control experts urged the council not to hesitate in implementing measures, because by autumn the problem will have become much more difficult to address.

The Latvian Association of Hunters (LATMA) suggested the City Council organize a contest for licensed members with silenced rifles to conduct a coordinated effort that would cull the town’s wild boar population without gunning too loudly for the grunters.

LATMA spokesman Zigmārs Zaķis told the meeting it wouldn’t be like a traditional hunt at all, but conducted in cooperation with local government police.

“I would not refer to this as a hunt. The hunting community already has more than enough enemies instead of friends,” he remarked.

He also warned that by fall the young piglets will have grown “big tummies and bigger appetites,” making the problem much worse unless something is done about it sooner.

Juris Buškevics, a board member of the city’s forest holdings Rīgas meži, agreed that this would probably be the best method available.

“One can try to set traps, too, but the wild boar are smart and only a few individuals would get caught,” he said.

On his part veterinarian Jānis Beinarts pointed out that the use of tranquilizers was an expensive proposition. He said one shouldn’t try to battle the unwelcome creatures, but rather try to coexist with them. One method of scaring them off, used in Russia, involves spreading tiger feces around the areas where they rummage, so that they instinctively avoid those spots. He also cited the example of Berlin, where despite a large wild boar population, the city struggles instead against other mammals roaming through town like foxes and jackals.

Housing and Environment department acting head Maira Megne was dead set against the idea of a coordinated hunt. “If for instance a sow with eleven piglets comes by, how many snipers will it take? This will be a slaughter!,” she objected.

However Agriculture Ministry representative Jānis Bārs emphasized that Berlin does in fact maintain regular culls by specially trained hunters as a last resort. He said the city should try to prevent any new specimens from coming into city limits and deal with those that are already here. The primary job is to separate the animals from their food sources amongst the trash bins and dump sites that attract them.

Meanwhile another attack was reported from the neighborhood of Jugla, where a dog was injured after rushing to protect his owner from a wild boar that was rapidly approaching her, reported national information agency LETA Wednesday.

Shortly after the incident the woman told independent commercial television LNT news: “My voice is hoarse from screaming at the hog to leave my dog alone!”

After immediately notifying the municipal police, residents pointed out that the area around their homes has been completely dug up by the roaming urban swine. Altogether they have counted 19 specimens in their neighborhood.

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