Riga hunts for solution to wild boar sallies

The Riga City Council’s Department of Housing and the Environment ruled Thursday to create a Hunters’ Coordination Commission to manage the city’s growing problem with wild boar coming into its wooded neighborhoods and wild territories.

City councilmember Askolds Kļaviņš told Latvian Radio Thursday that one proposal called for erecting a fence barrier to protect the urban gardens that wild boar love to dig up.

“When you’ve got a town created in the middle of the woods, you shouldn’t wonder that forest animals will be living there, too. Riga has lots of spots with clean air, quiet surroundings and free of other forms of pollution,” he said.

Meanwhile, Latvian Hunters’ Association (LATMA) executive director Haralds Barviks was ready to call the situation in Riga critical. He said that wild boar can attack people while protecting their piglets, or force one to share their snacks with them, as they adjust to the kind of food the city environment provides.

Barviks reminded LR of the example of Berlin, where between 60 and 70 cases of wild boar attacks are registered each year. He argued something needs to be done soon, without delay, otherwise the costs of managing the problem could soon rise beyond prohibitive.

The hunting group leader suggested that a few herds ought to be evacuated from city territories, otherwise there could soon be hundreds of specimens roaming the streets and lots near wooded neighborhoods on the outskirts of town.

Senior researcher Jānis Ozoliņš of the state Forestry Institute Silava thinks that the wild boar need not be coddled or protected at all. The 2015 Animal of the Year won the honor more as a hunted creature in close interaction with humans, rather than one representing nature’s wilderness as such. With the proliferation of Latvia’s wild boar populations, so has the scourge of African swine fever (ASF) spread through Latgale and Vidzeme provinces to threaten the nation’s pig farmers and pork sector. This just shows how much the wild boar have become part of human civilization, Ozoliņš pointed out.

If one leaves the animals alone there is little danger, but one must keep in mind that hunters most often suffer injuries during the hunt precisely while trying to bring down an injured wild boar specimen.

In the city they don’t disturb anyone, and being very intelligent animals, they know that the outskirts of town are quiet places much more predictable than the wild forests. They’re smart enough to understand that hunting doesn’t take place inside of town territories, which the Riga City Council may soon rule to permit, if the problem worsens.

The city’s new Hunting Coordination Commission will be made up of the responsible authorities, including the Food and Veterinary Service, forestry and hunting associations and their representatives. The Commission will also collect resident recommendations on how to resolve the problem, as wild boar have already been seen frolicking through the city’s cemeteries, parks and other undeveloped territories at the edge of town.

 

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