With a shooting ban in place, the invasion of wild pigs started in earnest during the pandemic-induced lockdowns, and residents are furious.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The Haifa municipality is meeting Tuesday in a special session dedicated to – wild pigs, Walla News reported Monday.
Residents of Israel’s third-largest city are furious at Mayor Dr. Einat Kalisch-Rotem for not dealing with an invasion of wild boars that began to make the news during the Covid-19 lockdowns, when streets emptied for months at a time, giving the animals free rein.
“I just drove over now to come pick up the boy, nearly 13, from a class nearby because he’s afraid to walk alone because of the pigs,” one Haifa grandmother in a car with her grandson told the news site.
The boars constantly roam the streets, ripping up public and private gardens along with their piglets and destroying garbage bins in search of food.
They have taken over playgrounds and even waded in swimming pools, said the report. But when they walk in the streets, the nuisance can become a serious hazard. According to one resident, they have caused a number of car accidents on the main roads of the city.
Although boars don’t often grow to their maximum of two meters long, even the smaller animals are strong and can be dangerous. In the last few months, there have been reports of a girl being bitten and an elderly man being attacked and needing treatment in a hospital. A year ago, a man was right next to his home when a boar rammed into him, breaking his leg in five places, leaving him bedbound and then in physical therapy for months.
At least one resident has sued the municipality for unnamed damages and won compensation. Lawyer Aviad Vissuli has threatened court action as well, warning in a letter to the mayor already six months ago that one day a boar vs. human confrontation could have fatal consequences.
“Haifa has become a warning to the whole country due to the municipality’s failure to get rid of the wild boars from the streets of the city,” he said, “which is deterring residents and visitors from coming.”
Incursions of boars have been a periodic problem in Haifa; they did not just appear out of the blue last year with the shutdowns. The city began having them shot in a controlled culling program in 2012 in order to keep the numbers down. However, when Kalisch-Rotem was elected mayor at the end of 2018, she ordered a ban on thinning out the animal population, in line with the wishes of animal rights activists.
As of now, Vissuli maintains that the city doesn’t even acknowledge the size of the problem, let alone doing anything about it, which is “more negligence on the municipality’s part.”
Conservative estimates put the number at around 2,000 pigs, given their average rate of reproduction and the fact that they have no natural enemies. One city council member, Yitzhak Balas, who spoke about the crisis already last June, thinks it’s more like 7,000, said the Walla report.
The municipality responded in a statement that it is “using all proven methods to distance the boars from residential neighborhoods…focusing on preventing food and water sources that are the main factors attracting the boars.” They have also recently received permission from the Nature and Parks Authority to trap the animals “in places where human-boar encounters have been reported.”