Cote d'Azur hit by invasion of gourmet pigs

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The Independent Online

After suffering repeated attacks this summer by giant seagulls, the embattled residents of the Cÿte d'Azur are confronting a new menace from the animal world: the burly and fearless sanglochon - a cross between a wild boar ( sanglier) and a domestic pig ( cochon).

After suffering repeated attacks this summer by giant seagulls, the embattled residents of the Cÿte d'Azur are confronting a new menace from the animal world: the burly and fearless sanglochon - a cross between a wild boar ( sanglier) and a domestic pig ( cochon).

The omnivorous porcines are invading the region's elegant coastal resorts in search of gourmet fare in the rubbish bins of restaurants and residents' villas.

"In Nice, neighbourhoods quite close to the city centre are visited at night by these beasts who don't even hesitate to come and drink out of the swimming pools," an exasperated official from the agriculture department told the France-Soir newspaper yesterday.

Complaints have multiplied in recent weeks from householders dismayed at having their gardens dug up by sanglochons in search of roots and potatoes for which they have a particular weakness.

In response, the regional agriculture department has officially classified the creatures as vermin and has authorised professional hunters to shoot the animals on sight. So far 1,820 sanglochons have been killed since the beginning of the year.

The animals were originally bred for their meat, but sanglochon chops never really caught on in France despite claims that the creature makes a particularly savoury sausage. As a result many disillusioned farmers gave up farming the beasts, releasing hundreds of them into the hills behind Nice and Saint-Raphaël, where they have been breeding like rabbits.

Living wild and free to mate at will, the sanglochon population has exploded, increasing by 600 per cent in the past 15 years.

While most householders find the creatures a nuisance, the inhabitants of a housing estate in Saint-Raphaël wereshocked last month when they witnessed a man clutching a shotgun who leapt from his car and shot dead a sanglochon which was quietly rooting around a dustbin for its dinner.

The agriculture department is now calling on hunting groups to organise special sanglochon hunting nights and it looks as if the creatures' halcyon days of summer on the Cÿte d'Azur may soon be over.

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