European views on fertility control for wild boar 

The 2022 International Symposium on Wild Boar and Other Suids in Seva, Spain, attended by 225 participants from 25 countries, highlighted the global relevance of human-wild boar/wild pigs interactions.

During the conference BIWFC Europe Director, Giovanna Massei asked several wild boar experts, each with decades of research experience, about the role fertility control might play in managing this species. The geographical spread of the areas represented by these experts (Luxembourg, Hungary, Italy, and Belgium) captured a wide spectrum of views.

Although everyone acknowledged that culling by hunters is not sufficient to limit the growth of this species, the prospect of fertility control was greeted with many and varied replies that ranged from interest for oral contraceptives, to beliefs that in some areas, such as Eastern Europe where hunting generates significant income, contraception would not be acceptable.

Other objections to fertility control included: the fact that in the short term this will not prevent crop damage or reduce the environmental impact of wild boar; doubts about whether it would be feasible to achieve adequate proportions of sterilized animals to reduce population size at large scale; concerns about contraceptives not being “natural” unlike culling which is regarded as a substitute for predators; the growing movement, in Europe, towards consumption of meat not treated with “chemicals.”

On the other hand, several colleagues agreed that oral contraceptives could play an important role in reducing wild boar numbers, particularly in areas where hunting is not possible or/ and in closed populations.

These objections raise valid points that we need to address. As wild boar and wild pig populations continue to grow, we clearly have a lot of work to do!

Jim Casaer
Flemish Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Belgium

Sandra Cellina
Nature and Forestry Administration, and National Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg

Andras Nahlik 
 University of Sopron, Institute of Wildlife Biology and Management, Hungary 

Andrea Monaco
National Wildlife Institute of Italy