How far do wild boars flee after a shot on a member of the sounder? Do they then avoid the shot location and if so, how long does this disturbance work through? A renowned wild research institute in Germany has analyzed this behavior with transmitters.
After the shot, the sounder, minus a male überlaufer, speeded away from the feeding spot in all directions. ‘We will not see this group again for a long time’, was the first thing I said to my hunting companion Walter who was sitting next to me on the high seat. “Not necessarily,” was his answer after he had taken his fingers out of his ears. ‘I once saw that the same sounder returned to the feeding place after only two days.’
In hunter’s circles, opinion is divided of wild boar reactions to disruptions by hunting. While some hunters experience a permanent disturbance effect after shooting a member of a sounder, others noticed that the sounder was on the same spot already the next evening. The German research institute Aulendorf of the agricultural center in Baden Wuerttemberg followed the fugue state of several sounders for a week before and after the shot in three different areas.
On a feeding spot a piglet was shot from a group of four boars (a wired sow, two female überläufer and the piglet) around 09:45 p.m. It was the sows only piglet of the sow and they were regular visitors of this area. After the shot she fled with the two überläufer over a distance of 1.7 km to a nearby hunting-free zone in a moor area. After the loss of her piglet, the sow returned close to the hunting area. On the seventh day the sounder was visiting the feeding spot again.
More severe was the flee of a 20-member sounder, of which three of them were wearing a wire. This sounder was only exploring a few days in a region unknown to her in Swabia. On 29 November 2014, a pig from this group was shot around 10 p.m. at a feeding spot. Before this group had spent almost two years in a habitat of about 1000 hectares, which is four kilometers south of the feeding spot and separated by a river and a busy road. After the shot the sounder fled back to this familiar habitat. The group of boar took the previously used tracks for three hours to arrive at their former habitat. The flee distance was about 5 kilometers. In this former habitat, the boar held up for three days, after which they returned to the shot location in the fourth night after the hunt. That week the feeding spot was no longer visited.
The last example shows that a sounder can quickly find the shot location again. Close to the city of Altdorf, a female überlaufer was shot at the edge of the forest at 00:30 am from a nine-headed sounder, two of them were wearing a wire. After the shot, the boar fled into the forest and covered almost 1.5 km.
The next day the pigs moved back to their familiar daycare at 350 meters from the shot location. At nightfgall the sounder started moving again and returned to the feeding ground at around 10 p.m. Also this time they were out of luck. The hunter managed to shoot a second female überlaufer from the sounder within 48 hours at the same place.
This second shot definitely left a lasting impression on the blackcoats. At high speed they fled into the forest again and for two hours they traveled 2.5 km to the edge of their habitat, which is bordered by a railroad track and a deep valley with a fast flowing stream. The feeding place was no longer visited and the boar continued to shift their activities to another remote part of their habitat.
Several Factors Determine the Return
The examples illustrate how flight behavior from wild boar differ after culling a member of the sounder. They confirm the contradictory observations from the everyday hunting practice, that both a continuous disturbance and an almost immediate return to the place where the shot was fired, are possible.
Significant are the conditions under which the shooting took place, for example whether the shot killed the boar at once or not. Other factors, such as the size and composition of the sounder, the experience of the older boar and the available food supply in the region also play an important role.
Apart from that, the flight behavior and the use of a habitat by this game species have a remarkable individual variation. With the exception of the fox, there is no mammal species with such a flexible behavior and is thus able to learn. The behavior of the wild boar will therefore continue to surprise us.