It sounds like the plot of a bad dystopian science-fiction show, but due to a proliferation of wild boars around the Spanish capital, the government has enlisted the help of archers to help cull the animals. The low-tech approach is perfect for controlling these dangerous wild animals in urban centers.
Wild boars are common in Spain, where they have very few natural predators. The population is growing, despite up to 100,000 animals being hunted every year, according to Iberian Nature. Like foxes in Northern European cities, these boars venture further and further into towns and cities, and come into contact with people. And while the these wild pigs generally avoid humans, if you get between a sow and her piglets, she will attack.
It might seem like a niche problem, but according to The Local, there are between 30,000 and 40,000 wild boar in and around Madrid, and the numbers are rising. They’re attracted by easy access to food in trash, and some people even feed them. The archers are called out between 100 to 150 times per year, and have killed around 200 boars in the last five years.
Madrid’s answer is to deploy 55 volunteer archers. Unlike noisy shotguns, silent arrows don’t wake up the neighbors. But not everybody is happy about it. A shotgun makes short work of a boar, but an arrow can stick it without killing it, leaving the animal to die slowly and in pain.
Hunting is just one method used to control the spiraling boar population. In Catalonia, an area in the north east of Spain, contraceptives are laced into food to slow population growth. Catalonia also tried to reintroduce the wolf into the Pyranees mountains, but those wolves avoided the dangerous boar in favor of softer targets: farmers’ dogs and sheep. Reintroducing bears to Spain is another idea which has thankfully not yet taken hold.
Rural development and growing cities are reducing the natural habitats of wild animals, so they are coming into increased contact with people. For non-endangered animals like the wild boar, culling can help, but as long as we keep putting pressure on natural environments, the problem will persist. Better management of development would be nice, but with population increases in many places, and housing shortages in others, that seems unlikely for now.