Wild boars belong to the same family as pigs. The latter is a domesticated sub-species. Representations of wild boars vary from one place and from one era to another and whether they are considered courageous animals or a pet peeve. Their numbers are growing and they sometimes even venture into urban areas. This Suidae is popular quarry for hunters, especially as, like pork, wild boar meat can be cooked in a number of different ways.
A great classic
The European wild boar, Sus scrofa, belongs to the Suidae family, alongside the subspecies Sus scrofa domesticus, commonly known as pigs. It has the particular feature of canine teeth which grow throughout its life. Those on the lower jaw are called tusks and those on the upper jaw, whetters. Wild boars have four toes on each foot, and thus leave characteristic tracks. In Europe, the first remains of the Sus scrofa date back some 700 000 years. Wild boars are present in North Africa and Asia and everywhere in Europe, except in Scandinavia. Humans introduced the species into North America and New Zealand.
In prehistory, like all large game, wild boars formed an important part of the human diet. Under the Roman Empire especially and at the beginning of the Middle Ages, wild boar hunting was particularly popular because these animals were seen as fearsome and courageous, charging with force and fighting to the end, without fleeing. From the 12th century, the image of wild boars became somewhat tarnished. They were seen as dislikeable beasts and their meat was less present on royal or noble tables as it was replaced by aquatic birds and deer.
Today, wild boars are once again considered to be worthy and courageous and are a preferred quarry for hunters.
Wild boars live in herds, essentially in forests. However, they have a remarkable ability to adapt. They can be found in marshlands, scrubland or on the edges of farmland where they cause serious damage to crops. For the past thirty years or so, numbers of wild boars have risen in Europe, even in peri-urban and urban areas. Berlin is now thought to be home to some 7000 to 8000 wild boars perhaps fleeing hunting areas and in search of food.
Owing to the abundance of this game animal in numerous regions, they are hunted in droves. Drovers drive the animals towards the shooters. With hound hunting, packs of dogs chase the game. Ground blind hunting is also practised, where hunters hide behind a screen of branches. However, as wild boars are nocturnal animals, stalking is rarer as it is difficult to find and follow an animal in the dark.
Tradition dictates that hunters honour their quarry immediately after it is killed. This can be done by, for example, by placing an oak branch in the animal’s mouth. As for all game, a wild boar must be immediately gutted in the field, as fermentation of the food in the intestines could soon harm the quality of the meat.
How we consume wild boars
The meat from a young wild boar (marcassin) is tender. The meat of older animals has a stronger taste, so it may be marinated. As with pigs, all parts can be eaten: head, tail, loin, shoulder, thigh, etc. Wild boar meat is less fatty than pork and its taste is more pronounced. The meat from older animals can be used to make pâté, sausages or salami.
Wild boar bristles make excellent hair brushes.
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Durante, Pascal. 2015. Encyclopédie pratique de la chasse. s.l. : Éditions Artémis, 2015.
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