중앙데일리

A hunting ban spurs city boar baby boom

Apr 27,2006
Alarmed by a recent series of attacks by wild boars in the capital region’s residential districts, the Ministry of Environment yesterday announced the results of a survey of 22 sites in and near Seoul. The data show that there are twice as many wild boars per unit area in and near the city than in other mountainous areas of the country.
At least one of seven recent incidents would have been humorous had it not resulted in injuries. In September, a boar weighing about 130 kilograms (290 pounds) burst into a bar in Amsa-dong in southeast Seoul, injured a customer, escaped and then attacked a man in a nearby park. The animal was eventually tracked down and killed after leading pursuers on a day-long chase.
The ministry said yesterday that there is an average of 7.5 boars per 100 hectares (247 acres) in mountain areas of the capital region. Nationwide, the figure is about 3.7 boars per 100 hectares.
The densest population was in Mount Gamak in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province, where 19.8 boars per 100 hectares were found. At Mount Bukhan, just north of Seoul, and at Mount Acha, the figure was about 10.
A ban on hunting triggered the population increase, the ministry said. There is an open season on boars in designated areas around the nation, but no hunting is allowed at any time in the capital region because of its dense human population.
Hunting is also forbidden in military reservation zones and environmental protection areas in the capital region, the ministry said.
Female wild boars, the ministry added, begin to reproduce at the age of about two, and give birth in litters of seven to 13 piglets. With that reproduction rate and few natural predators, it continued, the boar population near and in the city could grow exponentially and make close encounters of the porcine kind more common for city residents.
But experts are divided over why the boars increasingly come out into city streets. Some say that the invaders have been driven away from food and territory in the mountains after fights, but others questioned that reasoning.
“In normal conditions, a wild boar does not go into a noisy, polluted city to find food,” said Kim Won-myong of the National Institute of Environmental Research.
He said the boars probably head for the city only when they get lost or are flushed out of their domain by mountain climbers or dogs.
The ministry is trying to find the best way to thin the boar population. It said trapping and releasing them in rural areas was one possibility.
But that upsets farmers, who are complaining increasingly about crop damage by boars. There were an estimated 254,000 wild boars in Korea in 2004, causing damage of about 8.2 billion won ($8.7 million) annually.
The Korean Hunting Management Association recommended a special hunting team to kill some of the boars; other, more sympathetic experts called for more fences along roads and wildlife passages over or under highways and roads to keep the porkers in their places.


by Kang Chan-su, Ser Myo-ja


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