Diet of wild boar Sus scrofa in Western Europe, with particular reference to consumption of agricultural crops

Authors


*Correspondence: L. Schley, Service de la Conservation de la Nature, Direction des Eaux et Forêts, 16 rue Eugène Ruppert, L-2453 Luxembourg. Email: laurent.schley@ef.etat.lu

ABSTRACT

1. The diet of wild boar Sus scrofa in Western Europe is reviewed, paying particular attention to the consumption of agricultural crops and the implications of this from the point of view of crop damage. Data were taken mainly from 11 studies that provide quantitative information about the consumption of different food types, but we also list all the foods reported as being eaten by wild boar in a total of 21 studies.

2. Vegetable foods occurred more frequently in the diet than animal foods, and also constituted the bulk of the food ingested. Overall, there were four major vegetable food categories: mast, roots, green plant matter and agricultural crops. Depending on the study area, wild boar always consumed at least one energy-rich plant food such as acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts, pine seeds, olives, cereal grains or other crops. The number and types of agricultural crops consumed varied between study areas but crops represent an important component of wild boar diet throughout its Western European range. Among animal foods, insects, earthworms, birds and mammals were eaten most consistently but the diet also included amphibians, reptiles, gastropods and myriapods.

3. Seasonal, interannual and regional differences in the diet, together with its striking overall breadth, indicate that wild boar are opportunistic omnivores whose diet, in any particular instance, is largely determined by the relative availability of different food types. Dependence on energy-rich plant material as a major component of the diet, coupled with large body size and a propensity to trample crops as well as consume them, means that wild boar cause significant agricultural damage.

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