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The wild boar protects our ground-nesting birds


According to biologist Lars Hillström at University of Gävle, the much-maligned wild boars can play an important role in protecting the breeding of our ground-nesting birds.

“They chase away foxes and badgers, which are major threats to birds such as lapwings and curlews in farmlands and capercaillie and grouse in woodlands,” Lars Hillström says.


Foto: Kristoffer Sahlen/TT

For many years, Lars Hillström has studied wild boars. He has watched them cross the Dalälven River, and now he wants to provide a partly new image of the controversial animal.

While many may see them as nothing but pests, he regards them as an important part of the ecosystem. First, they potentially serve as a physical barrier that prevents predators such as badgers and foxes from reaching the birds’ breeding areas. Additionally, their rooting creates favourable conditions for fungi and rare plants.

Promotes biodiversity

Wild boars move through forests and natural areas and, in this way, spread seeds from plants they have eaten to new areas. Thereby, they contribute to a greater variety of plant species. Moreover, when they dig up the soil, small ponds or mud puddles are formed, which become water sources for other animal species as well as habitats for many insects.

Lars Hillström

Lars Hillström

“In fact, they are a bit like the old farmers and their livestock. They root up the soil and fertilise it, which benefits biodiversity. They are also fun to watch and provide great opportunities for the local economy as a source of food and for hunting tourism. Of course, it is important to keep their population under control to prevent damage to crops and gardens and to preserve the balance in the ecosystem. Protecting endangered species that live in the same area, or, in some areas, reducing the number of wild boars, is crucial,” Lars Hillström says.


Research presentation Lars Hillström

The history of wild boars in Sweden began more than 10,000 years ago; when the inland ice retreated, they were among the first immigrants. Wild boars became common, especially in southern Sweden. However, after agriculture was introduced, they were heavily hunted and exterminated or interbred with domestic pigs.

Later, wild boars were reintroduced in enclosures. Due to escapes in the 1970s and 1980s, they regained a foothold. Today, the population has increased, and they have spread to the far north of Sweden.

Wild boars can live up to ten years, but in captivity they can live twice as long. The wolf is their most important natural enemy, in some areas they account for the majority of wild boar killed.


Lars Hillström, senior lecturer in biology at University of Gävle
Phone: 072-168 23 98

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2023-05-08
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)