House Sitting and the Wild French Boars
Our house sit was in the Charente Maritime tourist region of France. There are wonderful beaches and pretty towns and harbours. However, our house was in a tiny village/town called Vinex. Since we had a car, we could visit the coastal towns.
Tiny French Villages are Wonderful
There is something unique in living for a while away from the crowded towns and beaches. Each little French village has a flair of its own and is uniquely proud of its history. The architecture is old and so photographable and people are incredibly friendly.
Our Headlights Catch an Unusual Sight
Travelling home from one of these villages at night, we found ourselves on a small country road. The only light came from our headlights.
Suddenly, they picked up a momma boar and her piglet crossing slowly in front of the car. We slowed down and watched them disappear into thick bushes.
The French name for boar is “sanglier.” They often live in groups called ‘sounders.’ Their hair was once used for toothbrushes as late as the 1930s.
But, Boars are Everywhere!
When we related our ’unique’ experience to a nearby English couple who had resided in France for a number of years, they almost yawned. We were told that the number of wild boars has exploded all over France in recent years, with current estimates at more than 2 million. They made a comparision of the fox problem in Britain. I didn’t want to hear about foxes being a problem; they are one of my favourite wild animals.
Stand Aside – Sangliers are Shopping!
Wild boars appear to be regular visitors in many suburban gardens and towns. In 2016, a whole herd of boars stunned shoppers in the centre of the city of Chambery. Boars are formidible creatures/ Wild Boars can reach up to 440lb (200kg), occasionally even 660lb (300kg) for adult males, and can be up to 6 feet (1.8 metres) long. If surprised or cornered, they may become aggressive and can cause injury with their tusks. This is quite rare and usually only occurs if a sow feels the need to defend her piglets.
Boars are a Genuine French Problem
Gardens and farm produce are wrecked by their foraging for food. It is estimated that each year about 60 per cent of the approximate 40,000 car accidents involve wild animals. Their numbers are growing and many have attributed the increase in numbers to an increase in corn farming. Populations have encroached on their natural habitats and forced them to feed in vineyards and farms.
Hunters Encouraged to Cull Wild Herds
In our various drives into small towns, we would encounter smaller roads and tracks with large signs in French and English. They warned that hunters were present. Hunters have set up artifical feeding zones, which sets the boars up like “sitting ducks.” This has backfired in many areas because bringing boars together has tended to increase breeding. With ample food available, boars are mating at a younger age. There are hunting restrictions that spare females with offspring. Global warming has saved some boar populations as storms and flooding has made hunting impossible.
Bored? Boars Love a Wild Wine Time!
It is not unsual for papers to report Boars enjoying a good time. One newspaper reported that twenty-five were caught in a southern vineyard.
Eight were shot and their bellies revealed them to be jam-packed with grapes. Boars are connoisseurs of fine wine. They chose grapses at their optimum ripeness. They are often referred to as “bête noir” or ‘black beast.”
People like to get their revenge by eating Sanglier saucisson
Saucisson, or “saucisson sec,” is a variety of thick, dry cured sausage that originates in France.
Wild Boars can reach up to 440lb (200kg), occasionally even 660lb (300kg) for adult males, and can be up to 6 feet (1.8 metres) long.
If surprised or cornered, they may become aggressive and can cause injury with their tusks.
However, this is quite rare and usually only occurs if a sow feels the need to defend her piglets.
WILD BOAR BEHAVIOUR
Wild boars live in groups called sounders. Sounders typically contain around 20 animals, but groups of over 50 have been seen. In a typical sounder there are two or three sows and their offspring; adult male Wild Boars are not part of the sounder outside of the autumnal breeding season and are usually found alone. Birth, called farrowing, usually occurs in the spring. A litter will typically contain five piglets, however, up to 13 piglets in one litter have been known.
Wild boars are usually nocturnal, foraging from dusk until dawn but with resting periods during both night and day. This is because hunters are most active during the day. Wild boars eat almost anything they come across, including nuts, berries, carrion, roots, tubers, refuse, insects, small reptiles, even young deer and lambs.
WILD BOAR HISTROY
The wild boar became extinct in Great Britain in the 17th century, however, wild breeding populations have recently returned in some areas, particularly the Weald (a region in the south of England) following escapes from boar farms.
Wild boars are hunted both for their meat, considered a delicacy, and to mitigate the damage they cause to crops and forests. Historically, wild boar hunting was traditionally done by groups of spearmen using a specialised boar spear. The wild boar spear was fitted with a cross guard to stop the enraged animal driving its pierced body further down the shaft in order to attack its killer before dying.
The hair of the wild boar was often used for the production of the toothbrush until the invention of synthetic materials in the 1930s. The hair for the bristles usually came from the neck area of the wild boar. Popular because the bristles were soft, it was not the best material for oral hygiene as the hairs were slow to dry and usually retained bacteria.