Wild boars in Jerusalem terrify residents, damage property

Currently, the Jerusalem area locality with the biggest boar problem is Mevaseret Zion, with the animals terrifying residents. 

Wild boars cross a road in a residential area after the government ordered residents to stay home to fight the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Haifa, northern Israel April 16, 2020. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
Wild boars cross a road in a residential area after the government ordered residents to stay home to fight the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Haifa, northern Israel April 16, 2020.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

Residents in the Jerusalem area have had a new issue plaguing them: Wild animals such as boars, jackals and porcupines roaming around the area, destroying infrastructure and sparking panic, Israeli media reported.

Of the animals, however, boars are the most dangerous, as they can cause severe injuries to local residents as well as to property.

The problem is nothing new for Israel. Wild boars have long been a problem in Haifa, where they have caused significant damage, injuries and, in one case, helped end a marriage. This became even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic when clear streets saw wild boars become an even more common sight, and as municipality-backed culling efforts were halted.

These boars are big, around the size of Rottweilers, and travel in packs. They are smart enough to break into gardens and trash cans, and can potentially turn violent. 

Dealing with them is difficult, with Haifa residents having formed "pig patrols" to combat the boars. One resident actually created a 3D-printed whistle to deter wild boars.

A woman stands next to a wild boar roaming in a residential area in Haifa after the government ordered residents to stay home to fight the spread of coronavirus. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)A woman stands next to a wild boar roaming in a residential area in Haifa after the government ordered residents to stay home to fight the spread of coronavirus. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)

Currently, the Jerusalem area locality with the biggest boar problem is Mevaseret Zion, with the animals terrifying residents. 

"I saw pigs running after each other and I nearly died of fright," one resident told N12. "I closed all my windows and doors at home, and started thinking if I could buy poison for them. They're dangerous, and could even bite me or my kids."

The Mevaseret Zion Municipality has already begun trying to find solutions.

"Every day, we repair the damages the boars can cause," Mevaseret Zion Mayor Yoram Shimon told N12. 

But why are sightings of boars and other animals becoming more frequent in the area?

According to Shimon, the answer is forest fires.

A fire that broke out near Mevesseret Zion. (credit: CARRIE HART)A fire that broke out near Mevesseret Zion. (credit: CARRIE HART)

Over the summer, severe forest fires near the Jerusalem area caused significant destruction, ruining what were once viable habitats for wildlife. Now, he explained to N12, these animals are stuck looking for habitats, food and water elsewhere.

"If no significant action is taken, it can end very badly," Shimon told N12.

The Jerusalem Post reached out to the Mevaseret Zion Municipality, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) for comment.

The wild boar phenomenon stems from their search of available, man-made food, the Nature and Parks Authority said in response. 

The NPA provides guidelines in order to cope with the problem, including improving sanitation levels and blocking access to trash and food, the NPA added.

The NPA also said that in some cases it allows for the dilution of the wild boar population, with the NPA acting in open spaces and local authorities acting within city boundaries.  

In the case of Mevaseret Zion, The NPA said that is acting in the open spaces around the town and has given permission to the municipality to take care of boars found within city limits. "Unfortunately, it seems that the Harel police is not enabling the municipality to act within the town for its own purposes," the NPA added.

Ela Pasternak, head of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel's mammal center, also responded to the Post's query.

"The phenomenon of wild animals, such as wild boars, golden jackals and striped hyenas entering theurban area has become very common in many cities and settlements all over Israel," she said.

"As long as cities will keep expanding towards open areas and more and more neighborhoods will bebuilt on natural habitats and natural ecosystems, so the animals will be more and more present insidethe city because the city is being built on their home."

"Cities such as Haifa, Jerusalem and Mevaseret Tzion are surrounded by high-quality ecosystems andhabitats with a wide diversity of wildlife animals, some are endangered, such as the mountain gazelleand the striped hyena, so sometimes it is natural for the animals to enter the city to seek for food, waterand shelter, especially when they are being excluded by people and new cities," she continued.

"The cities create accessible food and water sources, such as waste (open trash bins orbins which can be flipped and dug in), public gardens watering, vegetables and fruit gardens, cat feedingareas, animal facilities (such as chicken coop or dairy barn), etc. When those sources are open and accessible, it creates a sanitation problem, and they attract the wild animals inside the cities, especially when the city and its facilities (such as animal facilities) are not surrounded by fences. Those sources especially attract 'vermin' species, such as the golden jackal and the wild boar, whose populations in Israel has become very dense, mainly due to bad sanitation in many areas," she explained.

"Those species, in large numbers and dense populations, harm agricultural areas, ecosystems andhabitats, and in recent years have become a nuisance in urban areas. Most of the time, wild animals will run away when seeing people, but if they get used to the presence of people and get fed by people, they can become more aggressive," she said.

Pasternak concluded with a number of practical tips.

"In order to avoid confrontation with wild animals in the urban area,

1. The animals should not be fed or watered in any circumstance.

2. The water and food sources in the city should be reduced or fenced, so the animals could notreach them. For example, the trash bins should be underground trash containers, so they wouldnot become full in a short time and so the animals could not reach the trash or flip and diginside them.

3. The city should be fenced so the animals could not enter the city. The fence should be besidethe housed so there will not be open and natural areas inside the city that the animals wouldlive inside them.

4. No food or water should be placed outside the fence, so the animals will not learn to eat anddrink near the city. If they do so, at some point they will find a way to enter the city and thefence will not help," Pasternak concluded.