Friday, 14 August 2015

European wild boar numbers increase due to climate change


AUGUST 13, 2015

by Eric Hopton

The number of wild boars in Europe has grown constantly since the 1980s, and this is great news for the boars, but is not so popular with the continent’s farmers. More boars mean more problems for agriculture. These animals are big and can do a lot of damage to farms, as males can weigh more than 200 lb, have a body length of almost six feet, can run at 25 miles an hour, and jump more than four feet high.

Counting the boars was no easy task. “It is not so easy to determine the number of wild boars in Europe,” said wildlife biologist and first author of the study, Sebastian Vetter. “Therefore we analyzed data on hunting bags and road accidents involving wild boar. Doing this we were able to depict the growth of the wild boar population.”

Vetter and his colleagues gathered boar population data from as far back as 150 years covering twelve European countries. They compared population growth to temperature and precipitation data and identified a clear trend.

Wild boars get busy during mild winters

“There is a sharp increase in the number of wild boars after mild winters. As mild winters are becoming more frequent, also wild boar populations are growing exponentially,” Vetter said.

Part of the explanation is a process known as “thermoregulation”. In low temperatures, animals expend more energy to maintain a high body temperature, leaving less energy available for reproduction and rearing offspring in the following year and, in these harder winters, fewer piglets survive.


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