Frightened sheep, five dogs, a wild boar and the hunters

“Bang, crack, bdoom” was the first we heard of it, then the sound made by the tinkling of bells that hunting dogs wear round their necks. Everything was nearby and happening quickly: hunters had arrived at Trapeharde, but we had no idea of the actual drama that was going to unfold.

Our first thought when we hear dogs on our land is for the sheep (brebis). Whichever field they are in, they are surrounded by fencing, either solid wire grill (grillage) fencing or electric fencing (clôture électrique). But in the past, dogs have got over, under or through this fencing and sheep have consequently been chased — or killed. So we ran through the house to view the rear field where the sheep were.

Panicking sheep

As usual when there’s ‘an event’ the sheep stay together as a group. On this occasion, they had heard everything — perhaps much more than we had — and they were frightened. And it was easy to see why: there were two dogs in their field and more dogs were outside the fence trying to get in.

But the dogs were not interested in the sheep. They were chasing a wild boar (un sanglier) — and it was in their field.

Panicking wild boar

With two dogs at the boar’s heels, it was in a panic. It was a big animal and it was throwing its weight about, charging the dogs, ramming the fencing, doing its best to escape.

Good as our fencing was to keep dogs out of the sheep field, today it was doing wonders at keeping an angry wild boar inside the field. For the sheep, this was a torment. For the boar, it was going to be fatal.

The final shot

By this time, we had also circled the house in an effort to alert the hunters to the situation, but there was no need. They already knew exactly was was happening and one of them had climbed into the field. By the time we returned, there had been one more “Boom” and the boar’s fate had been sealed.

The hunter's trophy - a dead sanglier

This was a splendid animal, a female weighing between 60 and 80 kilograms. Apparently, she had been hit twice. The first shot, fired well outside our property, had hit one of her rear feet. She had panicked, fled, charged through some undergrowth and jumped the fence into our sheep field. This injury probably explained why she hadn’t managed to outrun the dogs.

The final shot had been clean.

The hunter's trophy - a dead sanglier, a broader view

The dogs

We don’t hunt and don’t want to. We have always been alarmed at the sound of dogs nearby. What was interesting here was seeing the dogs at close quarters and at work. They were medium-sized dogs, not the larger type used for chasing deer, and they were well-controlled. The lead dog had a heavy collar with two devices on it, one of which had an aerial. The hunters explained that the dog could be tracked using a hand-held device and could also be ‘dissauded’ through a remote signal triggering a small shock through the collar. Presumably this would stop it advancing, biting, disobeying … There was more control over these dogs than we had imagined.

Hunting

Hunters in our village and the adjacent village of Tachoires, shot a combined total of 33 wild boar in 2013. In the same period, they shot 23 (roe) deer. Each hunting society is allocated a maximum (Prélèvement Maximum Autorisé, PMA) for each type of game in advance — and there are penalties for exceeding these allocations. The limits are assigned centrally by each departement and are published annually. We think that exceptions to these arrangements can be made locally if crop destruction justifies a specific beat (battue). In 2010, for example, crop damage attributed to wild boar in the Gers departement was estimated to have cost farmers €30,000.

Monferran-Plavès and Tachoires ~ hunting statistics 2009 — 2013
wild boar roe deer
2013 33 23
2012 24 35
2011 31 36
2010 35 36
2009 28 37

There is more to this, of course, than numbers. This female had her own history — and probably a family of her own. Her story ended dramatically in full view of nineteen frightened sheep. On this occasion, the sheep were safe.