The swine bomb: is 2021 the year wild hogs take over the world?


Name: The swine bomb.

Status: Ongoing and escalating.

Appearance: Like Planet of the Apes, but with pigs.

Well, this all sounds very ominous. You are right to be worried. While we were busy concerning ourselves with global threats such as war and climate change and viruses, it seems we neglected to pay attention to the rise of the hogs.

I’m sorry, the rise of the what? The hogs, man. The wild hogs. They’re everywhere, and they’re coming for us.

You’ll forgive me for thinking you’re being alarmist. I am being nothing of the sort. Have you heard nothing of the plight of Corona, California? Packs of feral pigs have been running riot there since Halloween, tearing up lawns and – according to one resident – “tormenting our neighbourhood”.

That sounds very much like an isolated incident. Oh, you poor sweet fool. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that feral hogs are now running rampant in 38 separate states. There are 6m of them, and their number is rising sharply. It is estimated that the pigs cause $1.5bn in damage annually.

Thank heavens I live in Europe. Oh, you poor sweet fool. Have you not heard of the European swine bomb? Barcelona is absolutely overridden with wild boar, and has been for some time. In 2016 alone, police there fielded 1,187 calls complaining of the porcine menace.

OK, now I’m starting to worry. You should. The sight of wild boars digging through rubbish has become a source of widespread embarrassment in Rome and, in July, residents of Hong Kong were stunned to spot a baby boar riding on the subway. Last year, a wild boar in Berlin stole a nudist’s laptop. And don’t get me started on Shakira.

Shakira? Fine. In September, Shakira was essentially mugged by a pair of boars in Spain.

boar naturist
Bare-faced cheek … a naturist gives chase after a wild boar stole his laptop by the Teufelsee lake in Berlin. Photograph: Adele Landauer/AFP/Getty Images

How did this piggy plague get so out of hand? Believe it or not, the wild boar is an incredibly invasive species. The current theory is that they were introduced to environments as a food source, but then escaped and bred like crazy.

That’s scary. It is, especially because they can thrive in almost any environment. They’re destroying native crops, competing with native species and can carry diseases like African swine fever. There’s honestly a lot to be concerned about.

Plus they unsettled Shakira. Yes, that is the most awful of their crimes.

Do say: “Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down.”

Don’t say: “Wait a minute, they stole a nudist’s laptop?”

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