Since 1980, populations of wild boar (Sus scrofa) have increased over the species' entire European range. This increase has led to conflicts because wild boars cause crop damage amounting to several million U.S. dollars every year. Wildlife management agencies promote and financially support 3 major methods to reduce the loss: (1) intensive harvest, (2) supplemental feeding in forests to bait animals for easier shooting and to distract them from agricultural fields, and (3) building electrical fences around crops at risk. Our objective was to investigate how effective these methods were in reducing field damage by wild boars. Based on data from 44 hunting territories in the Canton Thurgau, Switzerland, we related damage frequency to harvest success, supplemental feeding, and fencing effort by means of 2 multiple regression analyses. The analysis of mean damage frequency among territories (averaged over 3 years) and changes in damage frequency within territories from 1994 to 1996 showed that only hunting reduced damage by wild boars. Because our results question the effectiveness of wild boar management practices and wild boar populations and damage are increasing throughout Europe, we suggest that control efforts and funds be reconsidered. Because only hunting seems to clearly reduce wild boar damage, we suggest more emphasis be put on the development and introduction of new harvest models among local hunting teams.
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Vol. 68 • No. 4