Just How Deadly Is a Wild Boar?

Are wild boars deadly? Attacks are not common, but they do seem to be trending upward. Seventy percent of reported attacks occurred between 2000 and 2012.

Just How Deadly Is a Wild Boar?

Just how deadline is a wild boar? Not so deadly after all. One study suggest the chances are less than a 1-in-a-million. But, throughout history, wild boars have made their mark.

A presentation given by John J. Mayer of the Savannah River National Laboratory offers context. The study was presented at the 15th Wildlife Damage Management Conference in 2013. “Only four fatal wild pig attacks have ever been reported in the United States, three of these resulting from attacks by wounded animals during hunting circumstances," said Mayer. "The most recent occurred in Texas in 1996.”

But if you go back through history, as the study highlights, wild-pig attacks were common enough to leave an imprint on human artifacts. Images of attacks can be found on prehistoric cave paintings dating back to 50,000 years BP. Other attacks were described in writings originating from ancient Greek and Roman empires.

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In the 2013 study, all available documentation and reports on wild boar attacks were compiled and studied to understand the nature of these encounters throughout history.

Here Are Excerpts From the Study:

70 percent of reported attacks were recent. A total of 412 attacks were compiled that collectively involved a minimum of 427 wild pigs and 665 human victims. These attacks occurred between 1825 and 2012, with 70 percent having taken place between 2000 and 2012.

21 U.S. States reported attacks. The attacks took place in all seven nonpolar zoogeographic realms (i.e., Australian – 33, Ethiopian – 1, Nearctic – 101, Neotropical – 1, Oceanic – 15, Oriental – 126, and Palearctic – 135), 47 countries and 21 U.S. states.

Most (attacks) were located in the Northern Hemisphere (88%). The United States had the largest percentage of these incidents (24%), followed by India (19%), Papua New Guinea (6%), and England and Germany (each at 5%).

Boars Do “Mess with Texas.” Of the 21 (U.S.) states, Texas (24%), Florida (12%) and South Carolina (10%) each had the largest percentage of attacks in the United States sample.

April Is a Dicey Month. January, October, April and November were the peak months (for wild boar attacks). Last year, ISIS militants were attacked and crushed by a wild boar stampede. The attack occurred in April.

Cave art at the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, India, depict a wild boar charging a stick figure. (Credit: Archeological Survey of India)

When Being “Treed” Is a Desired Outcome. Of the 665 human victims, the most common outcome was being physically contacted/mauled (69%), followed by those victims that were charged/aggressively threatened (17%), treed (9%) and chased (5%).

15% Fatality Rate. Fatalities were reported in 15% of the attacks where physical contact/mauling occurred, and were twice as high for victims who were traveling alone.

Hunters as Victims. The percentage of fatalities was more than double in hunting (28%) vs. non-hunting (12%) circumstances.

While much of the report is spent providing analysis of attack types and situations, it doesn’t stop short of examining the probability of a boar attack. Ultimately, it confirms — even in hunting situations — wild boar attacks are rare. And the widely-reported deaths of the ISIS fighters, killed after being charged by what was described as a “herd” of wild boars, was an anomaly and highly unlikely.

In fact, the likelihood of being attacked by a wild pig was determined by the study under both hunting and non-hunting circumstances as follows:

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Hunting Situations: One hunter injured in over 1.5 million hunter man-hours

Non-Hunting Situations: Three remote workers attacked (i.e., 2 charged/aggressively threatened and 1 treed) in over 3.9 million remote worker man-hours.

Less than a 1-in-a-Million Chance: Under both sets of circumstances, the probability or potential frequency of such an attack would be less than a one-in-a-million chance of occurrence.

The report concludes, “This is by definition a rare event.”

The 2013 study also offers detail about the boars documented in the reported attacks, the type of attacks and the resulting range of injuries from these encounters. You can find this and other analysis by downloading the full report courtesy of the University of Nebraska.

Featured image: iStock


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