How road hogs became the scourge of the autobahn

Tony Paterson
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:50

It may seem logical to swerve out of the way when faced with a wild boar on the road, but the Teutonic equivalent of the RAC, Germany's ADAC automobile club, thinks otherwise.

The motoring group has advised German drivers to plough straight into the animal, if necessary, when confronted by one on the road. It also produced graphic pictures to show the outcome.

Crashing into boars was infinitely better than trying to swerve out of their way because of the risk of running into an oncoming vehicle, the ADAC said yesterday.

"If a wild animal appears suddenly, apply the brakes as hard as possible, keep a tight grip on the steering wheel and stay in lane. In the worst case scenario a collision with the animal has to be accepted."

Photographs taken during a 50mph ADAC "test" collision, involving a life-sized dummy model boar and two piglets, showed that the entire front of the VW car used was wrecked.

"A collision with wild boar need not be life-threatening. The front of the vehicle was damaged but the passenger cell remained stable," the ADAC said.

The controlled test was the organisation's latest response to the growing number of accidents involving wild animals on Germany's roads. A total of 27 peopled were killed and more than 3,000 injured last year, not counting the tens of thousands of animals killed.

The rise in animal-related accidents has been blamed in particular on an explosion in Germany's wild boar population which is estimated to have increased at least six-fold over the past three years to reach a population of 2.5 million (one for every 32 Germans).

"The standard is now a doubling of the population each year," said Torsten Reinwald of the German Hunting Association. Last year, 447,000 wild boars were shot in Germany – the highest number since records began in the mid 1800s.

The population explosion is attributed to a 30 per cent increase in the planting of crops such as rape seed and maize, which are favourites of wild boars. With the notable exception of last winter, there has also been a run of mild winters which has allowed the animals to breed all year round.

The big increases have produced bizarre side-effects. In Berlin, a 10,000-strong resident wild boar population has forced the city's Premier League football team, Hertha BSC to call in marksmen to cull animals tearing up the pitch with their snouts.

There have been dozens of such encounters between pig and man in Germany recently. Five boars smashed their way into a cinema near Frankfurt. The animals were cornered in a car park and gunned down by police, who fired more than 100 shots, leaving an elderly witness badly shocked.

In another incident, a large boar smashed its way into a church community centre, terrifying a breakfast gathering of parents and toddlers who were forced to leap on to tables for safety away from the animal.

Experts say it is useless to try to run away from a wild boar. "They can weigh up to 90kg and run at speeds of up to 55kph (30mph), which is twice as fast as humans," Mr Reinwald said. "If startled, and particularly if a sow and piglets are involved, they can charge," he added.

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