When Wild Boars Attack, What Can You Do to Survive?

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Over the centuries, stories of wild boars charging someone in full attack posture have struck fear deep in the hearts of many, and for good reason. This is because, according to a study done by the University of Nebraska on reported boar attacks on humans by author John Mayer and titled “Wild Pig Attacks On Humans”, boar attacks can cause serious injuries and often do. In fact, as much as 15% of these assaults result in fatalities. Most often people expire due to exsanguination from injuries to their legs and femoral arteries.

Obviously, these wild creatures are potentially dangerous to humans, and as this author can attest, the speed at which an attack can happen is faster than you will have time to think about, let alone react to properly. In my case, three friends and I were hunting boar in the springtime in West Texas and stumbled upon more than we bargained for. As we rounded a blind corner we started to hear the faint grunting sounds of a group of pigs and so we got ourselves in stalking mode, thinking we could sneak up on the herd and get a shot on a few of them. Instead of having an one hog day, we were hoping to bag a handful as we had been tasked with putting a dent into the breeding population that was causing massive damage and destruction to a rancher’s land.

In our best efforts, we slyly snuck around the bend, searching the scrub brush for the boars we could hear but not yet see. The grunts grew louder, our heartbeats increased and the adrenaline started pumping a throbbing beat into our ears, and we drew closer to the group of wild swine somewhere in the thick cover that surrounded us. The point man stopped in his tracks.

Something was all wrong, suddenly their grunts turned into a different pitch and tone. They had winded us and now knew right where we were coming from, but we still could not see them. So, we approached as cautiously as possible, when all of a sudden it seemed as if the brush exploded in front of us with a thunderous ruckus.

Two sows came charging out towards our group with a lightning-quick speed that left us little time to say or do anything. The first one of us in their path tried to stand our ground and make themself large and loud, with the hopes of stopping the oncoming danger from approaching any closer. But that effort was to no avail and he was quickly knocked to the ground by one sow and rammed by the other. Another in our group immediately turned and ran, but that only triggered a chase response from the leading wild pig who ran him down and rammed into him with a heavy thud sounding from the impact. A third person was close to a tree with a branch just large enough to hold him about 6 feet off the ground and safely escaped any immediate contact with either of pigs in the oncoming charge. Finally, I was next in line as the furthest away from where they came from. I managed to side-step the first at the last second with a quick jump to the side, but the step landed me squarely in the path of the second. That was when I experienced the full powerful force of a charging wild boar. I was then knocked off my feet and sent tumbling and gasping for breath.

Thankfully, I only experienced the one hit. Then at that point, the two sows kept charging past us and it seemed as though they disappeared just as fast as they showed up. As the sound of the crashing brush and snapping branches got more distant, we all started picking ourselves up and putting ourselves back together. It was a harrowing experience, and if it had been a male wild boar or two that we had stumbled across, with their 4 inch or bigger tusks, then one or more of us would surely have had some much more serious, even life-threatening injuries. As we took stock of the situation, we realized that we had all escaped with just minor bumps, bruises, and abrasions but thankfully nothing that major. Things could have been much different though, and we were all well aware of the danger we just escaped.

Looking back, I often wonder who reacted properly to the situation in that split second when those wild boars came exploding out from the bushes? Who would have been safest in the event it was a male boar? What if he didn’t just make one pass, and what if he turned around to come back for more? There are so many variables, but there are also some absolute answers to these questions. It just takes a little unpacking of the advice and information that is out there on how to survive an attack by a wild boar and what the experts say will increase your odds of surviving without serious injury.

Are wild boar dangerous and why are they?

Wild boars are dangerous animals, just as any wild animal can pose a threat to your health, life, and overall safety. They are not only a physical threat because of their sheer size and temperament, but they are a major threat to human health because they carry a variety of horrible diseases. They can be carriers of viruses and bacteria that cause tuberculosis, hepatitis E, Metastrongylus, Toxoplasma Gondi, influenza A, Trichinella spiralis, Balantidium Coli, foot and mouth disease, and even anthrax or tularemia. That is not even to mention all the lice, flea, and tick infestations they can carry and spread into new areas.

All of these horrid health problems can be caused by even minor exposure to a wild boar or even just exposure to an area frequented or visited by a wild boar recently. They also pose an immediate threat to safety because they are unpredictable and will charge if they feel cornered, threatened, or if you get in between a sow and her piglets. In any of these cases, the boar will attack, and sometimes they will continue the attack until the victim stops showing signs of movement. They will rush what they perceive to be a threat to themselves, and then back up and charge again and again until they feel the threat has been eliminated.

The males, although shyer and less commonly contacted, have 4 large tusks that can reach 4-5 inches and have razor-sharp edges from being ground down by the opposing jaws tusk. This is because they have 2 on top and 2 on the bottom that line up so that they grind and rub on each other which just sharpens their edges over time.

These tusks are the reason for the common location of injuries from contact between a wild boar and a human. A study was done in 2013 by the University of Nebraska on every wild boar attack that the researchers could find any kind of reliable information on going back over 175 years. One thing that this study found was that the overwhelming majority of serious wounds, including most of the fatal ones, happened to the legs of adults or torsos of the smaller bodies of children. The fatalities often occurred due to exsanguination. That just means the victim lost too much blood to survive, and it occurred because the tusks of a boar dug into the person’s leg until they hit the victim’s femoral artery. If it wasn’t the femoral artery being torn open, then the injury happened to the neck or underarm for kids and adults who had been knocked to the ground by the boars first pass. Then, when the boar came back for another pass after knocking the victim to the ground, it got its tusks dug into those sensitive areas.

So, the tusks of a wild boar are its most formidable weapon that can kill people, and actually, they have caused fatal wounds to multiple people over the years. That was not all the study found, but the study also included all species of wild swine, from feral pigs to actual wild boar.

Are boars and pigs the same?

When wild boars attack_Trekkerr

There is a slight distinction between a wild boar and a feral pig, but essentially they are of the same family—the Suidae family—which has 16 known species of wild pigs on the planet. These species range from the Warthogs of Africa to the Eurasian Wild Boar that we commonly refer to as just wild boars and even includes the feral domestic pigs. All the domestic pigs on Earth are descendants of the Eurasian Wild Boars and are the feral pigs that we encounter most often in the wild in most countries.

This is because the domestic pigs get loose from their pens for one reason or another and quickly turn feral. Then, once they turn into feral pigs the males begin growing tusks, hair all over, and within a generation or two they will also revert to the Eurasian Wild Boar body types. These body types are slightly taller because of longer legs, and their heads grow larger too, due to longer snouts. The females on the other hand just grow wiry hair that stands up going down the spine and lays down on the sides of her body. The sows will also grow a larger head with a longer snout and will grow a few more teeth but no tusks.

It is actually quite interesting how quickly they turn feral and revert to their natural state of being, but essentially any pig in the wild living on its own can be referred to as a wild boar since the interbreeding over the last two centuries has muddied up the bloodlines so much that they really all are just about the same species genetically now. Even domestic pigs are the same as wild boars, but they have been selectively bred for certain features that assist in farming, like larger sized bodies for example. Then when these get loose, they breed with the local population of wild boars and increase the average size of the bodies within the herd, and this has happened on innumerable occasions.

What it all boils down to is that the wild boar you may encounter are all feral domestic pigs that have bred with the ancient wild boar species that were taller with larger heads. They are now essentially the same species and have all the same characteristics as one another with the longer head and taller bodies being the dominant gene that expresses itself whenever a pig is on its own in the wild outside of a domestic setting, even if the pig was raised domestically and then got out into the wild somehow. It doesn’t take long for that dominant gene to begin showing and a pig will start to turn feral within a couple of months and the hair is the first sign of that change. Then comes the tusks and also the attitude adjustment that makes them both more skittish and more aggressive as well. Which is the reason for most attacks on humans.

Wild boars attacking humans

Wild boars attacking humans is a somewhat rare occasion but is becoming more common with as many attacks reported between 2000 and 2012 as there was in the 175 years before then. This is mainly because of the expansion of wild boar territory in the United States as well as Eastern Europe. Many pigs have been released intentionally by unscrupulous ranchers who want to have the protein source without needing to care for the animals directly like they would need to with domestic pigs in a pen. So, pigs are being released or even escaping their pens in new areas where wild boars have not been before. Now, there is a lot of territory that has been taken over and infested with huge populations of wild boar.

The wild boars are then spreading into areas where more people live and are not just out in the wild in the middle of nowhere anymore. This proximity to people is causing a spike in the number of boars attacking humans. The study from the University of Nebraska found that there where 412 attacks in those 12 years that included 665 human victims with injuries from 427 wild boars. The number of attacks occurring in developed areas, instead of attacks occurring on hunters or people hiking in the woods, has increased dramatically recently. The study found that since 2005 there has been an average of more than 10 attacks per year in these developed areas alone. This just goes to show how the wild boars’ territory is expanding and reaching into urban neighborhoods where they end up having interactions with people more often. Now, the danger of having one turn and attack a person has increased drastically.

The wild boars are known to attack when they feel as if they are being cornered or if a sow thinks she needs to protect her piglets from the human presence. In either case, it is easy for a person to stumble upon a pig while doing everyday activities when the pigs are in their neighborhood and can walk right into a bad situation right from the start. This has happened many times where a person steps outside their home to a group of boars in their front yard and the pigs’ exit is right through where the person is standing so they feel trapped and immediately charge.

There was even one case in Anahuac, about 50 miles east of Houston, Texas where a 59-year-old woman was found dead in the yard of the home of the elder couple she was a caretaker for. They found that she had many wounds from the tusks of wild boars, and they could tell there was more than one hog in on the attack by the patterns of the bites on her body. They also say she had defensive wounds like she was fighting back against the wild boars, but she ended up expiring due to exsanguination from a large number of wounds on her body.

She must have been knocked to the ground during the attack because of the location of wounds on her torso, and the boars must have charged her multiple times on the ground before she could manage to get back to her feet. It is a sad case and was one of only a handful of fatal attacks in the United States in the last 150 years, at least attacks that had been reported in one way or another. They figure she stumbled upon the pigs in the yard inadvertently and they felt trapped so they charged her and kept coming around to charge her repeatedly until she was no longer a threat to them then they moved on.

There was no way of even knowing which pigs did the attack to have professional hunters come in and take care of those specific pigs. So, the neighborhood pitched in and paid for a professional hog remover to come out there and thin the herd in the area in the hopes of not having another encounter like that one for at least a few years, until the population grew back to where it was. With the rate at which pigs proliferate there isn’t a whole lot that could be done because you can never get them all in an area and the ones that are left will breed and multiply very quickly.

So, if you happen to live in an area where boars are coming into your neighborhoods enough that you are worried about being attacked when you stumble across their path, then there are some things you should know to survive an attack from a wild boar and to protect yourself.

When wild boars attack: What to Do and How to Protect Yourself?

Would you know what to do in the event of a wild boar charging towards you at their top speed of about 30 mph? How do you think you would react in that split second you had before it slammed into you at full speed?

Well, what you should do depends on the specific situation and what you have available to you when it happens. But there are a few definite answers to this topic, and we are going to explore them in more detail here in a second. First, knowing why they attack is important to avoid an assault on you from one or more wild boars.

When do they attack humans?

Wild boars will attack humans in a few different situations, but they all have some commonalities between them. For instance, a sow will viciously protect her young piglets, especially if they are still of suckling age and wholly dependent on their mother for everything from food to security. If you manage to get in between the sow and one of her offspring, then she will immediately perceive you as a threat and deal with you as such by charging to try and scare you off.

She may first try to scare you off with a false charge or two. This where she takes a few really fast steps towards you stomps on the ground and growls a guttural noise meant to intimidate you and get you out of her way and out of the immediate area. Then, if you still haven’t gotten the hint and removed yourself from that situation, she will full-on charge you in attack mode until you are either on the ground and no longer moving or you hightail it out of her way and are then far enough away from her piglets for them all to escape your presence safely.

Also, she may skip all the false bravado and go straight to a full-on charge. What she does in this situation all depends on her mood and character, but you can be sure that she will not just sit back and do nothing. If you are getting near her piglets or especially if you get between her and them, then she is sure to act and most likely in an overwhelmingly violent fashion meant to overpower you right away. In acting this way, she ensures that she is limiting the possibility of you fighting back and injuring her in the process because she is a mother after all and needs to be healthy enough to take care of her young ones after this encounter.

Another reason wild boar will attack is that they feel cornered or trapped by a human or humans and they just want to get out of the situation. Sometimes the topography may be what traps them like if you were walking into a steep canyon with the only way out of it is behind you and there were wild boars already in there. Now as you walk into this canyon you are pushing the boar in front of you deeper and deeper into it. The bad part of this situation is that you may not even realize that the hogs are there in front of you until it is too late. Once they get so deep into the canyon that they finally realize there is no other way out but through you, then you are in trouble. This is because they may think you are hunting them, even if you are just out for a leisurely hike in the woods, and they will act accordingly. At this point, they will probably all turn towards you and come charging out of the canyon or draw at full speed. If this happens then those boars will be in full attack mode to try and defend themselves from your attempts at cornering them, because that is how they experienced what just happened.

Now is a good time to remind you that they can run up to about 30 mph, or maybe even faster. Plus, this situation could happen with just one lone male boar or a small herd of sows and piglets that number up to 30 hogs or more. You just never know when you will stumble across some wild boars while you are out in the woods anymore. This is because they have spread their territory to cover much of the Americas, Africa, Russia, Asia, and Europe. Some have even gotten loose in Australia now too, but that continent is not as overrun by them as the rest of us are, at least not yet.

How to Prevent a Wild Boar Attack

When wild boars attack_Trekkerr

Your best bet at preventing a wild boar attack is to avoid coming into contact with the boars in the first place, if at all possible. If you hear grunting coming from the brush, do not go to investigate and especially to not try to feed any wild boars anything ever. This is because it gets them to associate humans with food and can cause someone else to get attacked at a later time, even if you are successful at feeding them without getting hurt yourself. Basically, avoidance is your best defense when it comes to wild boars.

If avoiding them altogether is just not possible, maybe because they frequent your front yard or a similar situation, then the next thing to remember is to not corner them. Allow them plenty of room to leave the scene whenever they want to and slowly back yourself away. Get out of the situation as fast as possible while not getting in the way of the pigs who are just going about their daily business.

Unless you get between a pig and freedom or a sow and her piglets, then you should have a higher chance of avoiding an attack. Although, sows may charge you or challenge you just for being in the same area as her and her babies. So, if you see one to five large pigs and anywhere from six to a few dozen small piglets, then your best bet is to get out of that area immediately. Do not sit and watch them go about their business. Also, do not start to take pictures, this is stalking behavior and you may then be perceived as a threat, triggering an attack.

How to Survive a Wild Boar Attack

If an attack cannot be avoided and the pigs catch you off guard or appear from nowhere, like in my situation mentioned at the introduction of this article, then you have a few options. First, look for something to climb to get up and out of the boar’s reach. A tree, a large boulder, a high fence, on top of your car, or on top of any vehicle, these are all good options to use when trying to escape a wild boar attack. Just remember that they can jump up about three to five feet in the air, so climbing on a tree stump may not be enough to get you out of their reach.

If there is nothing near enough to you to get to before the boar would reach you, then do not run from them. Running will trigger chasing behavior and encourage a more determined attack from the following boar. You can stand your ground and sidestep at the very last second, but this is a risky move and if there is more than one boar, like in my situation, then you may get hit by the second or third pig and knocked off your feet, just like what happened to me.

You will want to do everything in your power to stay on your feet and not get knocked to the ground. Once you are down, all your vital organs and sensitive tissue areas become reachable for a pig and even though they may not be intentionally trying to go for those areas, they can still get to them and cause serious damage. Sometimes, even fatal wounds are caused this way. For this reason, staying upright is important for your general welfare in a pig attack and you cannot fight back as well from the ground.

That is your final option, by the way, to fight back. Hopefully, you are armed if you are in an area where you may encounter wild boar. If you are not carrying a firearm, then at least you hopefully have a large enough knife to protect yourself in the event of an attack. You should immediately draw your weapon the second you feel that you are about to be attacked or see them charging your way. If you do not have a firearm or a knife on your person, then quickly check your area within reach for a large stick or rock, anything to arm yourself with to help equalize the playing field between you and the boar. Fighting back is a final, last-ditch effort that should only be used if there is no way to escape the situation.

So, when it comes down to fighting back against a wild boar, you want to make sure that you stay on your feet and stay away from the head of the pig as much as you can. Their heads are where they hold their best weapons. That is where their tusks are for a male pig and also where the regular biting teeth are for a female pig. So, you can avoid the head by sidestepping them just before they reach you or by jumping up and over a charging pig at the last second, but only if you feel acrobatic enough to accomplish that feat. Then, you can perform your attack on them with your weapon from their sides or rear, where they are most vulnerable. Just remember that they have a shoulder blade bone that is like a steel armor plate, so you will want to go under or behind that bone to hit their vital areas.

Those are your basic options. Starting with avoidance, then going to climbing an object to get out of their reach, or a last-second sidestep or jump can get you out of the way, and finally fighting back is your very last line of defense.

Escaping a Wild Boar: Why Should You Avoid Wild Boar Encounters at All Costs?

Avoiding a wild boar is important for all the reasons we have already mentioned. They are dangerous animals who will attack if they feel it is necessary. Plus, the diseases these creatures can carry and transmit to humans are horrible. You do not want to experience the extremely dire situations that can be caused by contracting an illness spread by wild boar including such extreme diseases as anthrax and tularemia.

Plus, there are all the other parasites like ticks, fleas, and lice that they carry around and spread wherever they go. These bugs can get you or your pets extremely ill and you should avoid contact with wild boar or any place that they frequent in order to keep you and your pets safe from these parasitic insects and diseases.

That is not even to mention the physical threat they impose on humans and animals alike in the form of an attack. Those are just inadvertent and silent killers that you may not think of immediately when you think of the harm a wild boar can cause you or your beloved pets. Hopefully, now that you know the threats these creatures can place upon us all, you can do your best to avoid contact with them at all costs.

Frequently Asked Questions: More Info about Wild Boar Attacks

There are a few questions that people think about when they consider the harm that boars can cause to us and our domesticated animals. You may have even asked yourself one or more of these questions as you have read this article. We hope to cover this topic of wild boars attacking most comprehensively and answer every question you may have about the subject. So, here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about pigs attacking humans and pets.

How do you keep wild boars away from your campsite?

Typically, there is no way to actually keep them away. Although, as long as you have a fire going in the campfire pit you should be safe at night while you are sleeping. This is because they do not want to come towards the smoke. After all, it is a universal warning sign of fire which is something that they instinctively avoid. After millennia of evolving and adapting to their environment, a few characteristics have embedded themselves in the core of the animal’s psyche and one of those is avoiding fire. This is most likely because fire represents a danger in many different forms and since they are not capable of controlling fire like we uniquely can do it strikes fear in their hearts and minds. Their best bet for survival is just avoiding any fire, even just smoke, at all costs. So, this is a great way to keep wild boar away from your camp simply by keeping a fire burning in your campfire pit.

Other than that, unless you plan on leaving food out in the open and available for animals to come to eat at will, then you shouldn’t have too much of an issue with wild boar entering your camp. If you leave food out, however, then the pigs’ incredible sense of smell could bring them to your site from up to a mile away just to investigate where those enticing aromas are coming from, especially sweet-smelling foods like fruits, pastries, and berries. So, you should always keep your food locked up and sealed in containers and/or ice chests. Doing this will help keep not only wild boars from entering your campground but other dangerous wild animals such as bears, for example.

Just doing these two things will ensure that you have a safe and memorable—for all the right reasons—camping experience; keeping a fire going and putting your food away properly is all you need to do.

Can you outrun a wild boar?

Some people may think they can outrun a wild boar, but we assure you, even the fastest humans on Earth would have trouble hitting a pace of 30 mph and then holding it for as long as a boar can. So, the obvious answer is no; you cannot outrun a wild boar no matter how fast you believe yourself to be. That is also not to mention the chase behavior it could trigger in the boar and would just entice or encourage them, even more, to run you down in an attack.

Your pet dogs would have a hard time outrunning a wild boar. Some might be able to do so for a little while, but even they may tire out faster than the boar would unless they are in amazing shape and have been training to run down hogs or other animals in a dog assisted hunt. But that takes very specifically and well-trained animals that work in a group that is at least double the number of pigs they are to be hunting. This means that if there is believed to be a pair of pigs in an area and a hunter wants to use dogs to track them down, then they would need to use a bare minimum of at least four very intensely trained dogs for this task.

Can a wild boar kill my dog?

Even the best-trained boar hunting dogs get hurt and even killed during these dangerous, wild, and chaotic hunts. Some owners built body armor of sorts to help protect their beloved hunting dogs from the deadly tusks of a wild boar, but even then there is still a risk of serious and possibly fatal injuries occurring to the animals.

So, the short answer of whether a wild boar can kill your family pet dog is an absolute yes, they can. Many dogs have been hurt and even killed while protecting their owners when they stumbled upon a wild boar together while out on a walk or hike in the woods. So, if you are out on a walk with your dog and they start pulling on the leash or acting up like they are trying to get towards or away from something, then you should pay attention and take notice of this behavior.

If you have a tough dog who wants to take on the world and he/she is pulling at the lead to get at something in an area where wild boar are known to live, then it is probably best to turn around and head another way immediately. If you have a skittish dog, on the other hand, and they are pulling on the leash to get away from something, then it is probably best to follow their lead. This is why it is important to know your dog and their behaviors, so you can best act or react to signals they are sure to give because they will almost certainly be the first ones to notice the presence of hogs nearby. Knowing wild boar character and behaviors may just save your or their life someday.

Final thoughts

As you now know, wild boars are dangerous creatures for a variety of reasons. Also, as their territory expands and begins to overlap with our expanding territory as humans, then there are bound to be more and more encounters between us and them. Hopefully, many people will inform themselves about the dangers, risks, and possible reactions to a boar attack so that more people can keep themselves, their families, and their pets a bit safer from these encounters.

Once you know why they attack, how they attack, and what your options are when they do attack, then you are ready for action and armed with all the knowledge you need to save your own rear end someday, not to mention someone else who you care about might be saved because you took the time to educate yourself on this topic. Now that you have all the necessary information, do you feel as though you can handle a situation should you be presented with it?
If so, then we have done our job. But if not, then please do feel free to research your questions more. We say this because everyone should feel confident in the information they have learned when it comes to the topic of wild boar attacks. Having that confidence will help you react more safely in the event of a sudden attack, and we hope we have armed you with all the proper information that may one day save your life.

I wish I had known all this a bit more deeply before my fateful encounter that day on that rancher’s land. I may have reacted differently or come more prepared and also would have formulated a more thoughtful organized plan of attack on our behalf. Rather than using a loose “let’s stalk them by the sound they are making” plan like the one we operated with that day. We may have made all the wrong choices and were lucky enough to escape with just some bumps and bruises, but knowing how bad it could have been made it a paradigm-shifting experience. Now I just want to make sure everyone else knows the dangers and typical outcomes of these encounters, so that they may avoid having such an experience of their own before learning the information you just learned in this article.

We hope you stay safe, enjoy the woods in the safest manner possible, and that you keep your family safe from the rapidly expanding populations of wild boar on every single continent. They are spreading out and we are also spreading out. So now it is only a matter of time before many more serious incidents begin to take place.