I have mixed feelings about sangliers.
I really don’t like them being hunted. Early this morning I lay in bed listening to the hunters emitting their weird calls, the hunting dogs barking, their bells jangling, and then, boom boom – very loud shots. (I get the impression the guns are more powerful this year).
This is the start of the hunting season. This year it started early because we are being overrun by sangliers. The hunters belong to teams, it’s very clannish, almost like freemasons. In our valley there are two teams, one led by the former mayor’s family, the other by Eric Combernoux, ‘roi’ de la vallée. But as I’m on the crest of a hill I also hear the hunters from the next valley, on the slopes of Mars.
There are rules about when they can hunt (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday) and where (in theory, set distances from habitations). Such are the accoustics of the valley, that this morning I felt the dogs and hunters were on my land, but they were in fact on the hillside opposite.
Mixed feelings? Well, to start with, I’ve just eaten sanglier, given to me by the plumber two houses away, who hunts with Eric. It’s curious, I don’t like or eat pork (dates back to being ill as a child in the run-up to appendicitis), but somehow, sanglier is gamier and therefore a bit more acceptable.
I also have to accept that we do now have a serious problem of sangliers wreaking damage everywhere. It was dramatic seeing how one giant male was able to turn over the soil on a many of my terraces in the winter. At least I no longer have a vegetable garden to protect. More serious are the problems for farmers and wine-growers. One told me that all his grapes of a particular variety were eaten by the sangliers this year, so his yield is going to be very limited.
Two nights ago I spent a pretty sleepless night. I could here noises down in the woods below my pool. Then Poppy heard them too and at intervals rushed out onto the terrace and barked ferociously – at a safe distance from the intruder. Finally I saw him: a young adult male (not as big as the winter giant) happily munching away at my compost heap. This time he was not doing much damage, but I felt justified at making noises (at a distance…) to chase him away. My Belgian friends up the road have enclosed their land with electrified cables, but I think it would be too costly and unsightly for me to do the same thing.