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Spain news: Wild boar attacks in Barcelona spark calls for ‘hunting expedition’ | World | News

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Buyers flee as wild boar rampages in supermarket

Shakira said in September that two wild boars attacked her and destroyed her bag, putting the mammals in the international spotlight. The Spanish city, a favorite with British holidaymakers, is one of many European communities struggling with large populations of the infamous mammal.

The local government says it is doing everything in its power to bring them under control – it has been claiming since at least 2017 – but all attempts to curtail encounters between residents and wild boars have been unsuccessful.

Shakira, who lives in the Catalan capital with her husband, Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué, and their two children, told more than 70 million followers on Instagram: “Look how they left my bag, the two wild boars that m ‘attacked in the park.

“They were taking my bag into the woods with my phone in it. They destroyed everything.”

And the singer is not the only one.

In August, an older man sued Barcelona city hall after a wild boar bit him while walking with his family. He had to go to A&E, where a 2 inch wound was treated.

He wants “officials to agree to take appropriate measures to control the population” of pigs.

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The Ramblas of Barcelona and a wild boar

Tourists don’t have to worry about pigs, expert says – they won’t come across any on the Ramblas (Image: Getty)

In a nearby location, a woman suffered a similar incident.

And at the Carretera de las Aguas, a gravel road that winds along the Collserola mountains, which can be seen high up in town with your back to the sea, such encounters – luckily rarely with bites – abound.

A popular spot among walkers, runners and cyclists, almost anyone who rides it regularly has had to dodge a group of wild boars at least a few times over the years.

Although they are not immediately aggressive, the main fear is that they are carriers of tuberculosis and, as would be the case for a third of the population of Barcelona, ​​of hepatitis B.

Sergio Sánchez Mateu, president of the Catalan Hunting Federation, said this was the obvious result for animals that eat in garbage cans.

He noted, “They eat garbage, which is also why populations keep growing.

“Without food there is no reproduction.”

He said the “exponential growth” of the species in the city basically comes down to two factors – the environment and the government’s approach to the issue.

Wild boars at the Carretera de las Aguas in Barcelona

It’s no surprise that locals encounter wild pigs at the town’s Carretera de las Aguas. (Image: Getty)

On the one hand, urban areas have become more and more extensive and temperatures have become more pleasant in recent years. On the other hand, there is something that Mr Sánchez Mateu describes as “political cowardice”.

He told Express.co.uk: “We believe that the forest mass is increasing due to the rural exodus and that intensive farming practices mean that there is no competition for food in the forest.

“All the food produced by the forest is intended for wild animals.

“To this, we add more and more comfortable temperatures, with a less drastic difference between winter and summer …

“For example, a wild pig that previously raised four young wild boars once a year now breeds six to eight twice a year.

These elements, Sánchez Mateu explained, create an ideal scenario for wild animals, and while a contraceptive vaccine is being tested, researchers are highlighting a series of obstacles to its potential to fight overpopulation.

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Barcelona is one of Britons’ favorite holiday destinations (Image: Daily Express)

Manel López-Béjar, head of the Department of Animal Health and Anatomy at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at UAB, and head of a pilot project to inoculate Barcelona boars, said the vaccine’s effectiveness is losing ground. its effectiveness one year after the vaccine was given to adults.

In young mammals, however, it is believed that the efficacy of the vaccine may be irreversible.

After the first stage of the study, which began in 2017, a second is launched in 2022.

With an investment of 40,000 €, he will focus on injecting boars from four to six months old.

Nonetheless, even Mr López-Béjar does not believe that the vaccinations will be enough to stop Barcelona’s overcrowding.

The 2020 city council admitted that the increase in wild boar incidents was largely due to a shortage of hunting activities – and this is where Mr Sánchez Mateu’s point on ‘political cowardice’ comes in. .

Top of Barcelona, ​​near the Torre de Collserola

The mountainous and green areas of Barcelona are an increasingly common home for wild boars (Image: Getty)

He said: “The reputation of the hunter, especially in an urban setting, is negative.

“Hunters are considered animal killers.

“In Catalonia, the government has increased hunting periods so that they can go out for about seven months a year, but without taking a position in favor of hunters.”

Mr. Sánchez Mateu underlined that without the support of the government, a generational succession of professionals is unlikely, which is very damaging for the hunting community.

He continued: “They are pushing us to hunt more even though they know that if they don’t invest in the image of the collective, there is going to be a huge problem across Europe.

“It’s a political question.”

It is, he stressed, “to tell the public that species must be managed, of course always in a sustainable manner”.

He wonders, “How can you tell people that a huge area is closed because of a hunting expedition?”

“No one wants to shoulder the political cost that comes with it.”

But it needs to be done, he suggested: “It’s not animal abuse – it’s about ecological balance.”

It is also a matter of security, he said.

Mr Sánchez Mateu said: “Nothing threatens them. Dogs bark at wild boars and they don’t run away. They aren’t afraid of people.

“They’ve gone from hoping to on-demand food, and some people, because it looks exotic, feed them.

“Locals [in Barcelona’s mountainous areas] are fed up with the destruction of the roads in front of their homes and the dangers of a car accident. “

One thing is certain however, Mr Sánchez Mateu said: “It should not have an impact on tourists.”

He added: “They go down to the beach sometimes and walk on a towel or two which can be a bit scary, but vacationers surely won’t run into pigs on the Ramblas.”

Barcelona city council has been approached for comment.

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