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I have been trekking and camping since last 6 yrs. I have over 600 hikes and about 30 technical rock climbs under my belt. We often tend to camp up in forests, and at our sides, wild boars are pretty normal. Though I have never been under an attack by a wild boar, I just want to know that instead of running away (never in a straight line though), do I stand a chance to pretend to be aggressive if they out-number me? Few of the civilians suggested that it works most of the times if they out-number you. They loose their formation and run away. I just want to know if such a thing happened and/or (deliberately) done by anyone? How safe is it?

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Going head-to-head with a wild boar sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. – Don Branson Jun 19 '13 at 16:28
They are generally considered one of the most dangerous and aggressive animals you will find in the wild. I would not advise fighting or running, but ideally avoiding! – Rory Alsop Jun 19 '13 at 22:39
@RoryAlsop: I would love avoiding them all my life mate. But in Western Ghats of india and around Sahyadris where I trek, 5 out of 100 hikers do face wild boars up front at least once in lifetime of trekking. During a lot of night-treks,I have heard the boars grunting in bushes. i never want to face them anyway. But in wild, anything can happen since they themselves are pretty aggressive. – WedaPashi Jun 20 '13 at 5:00
Interesting, maybe there are other boars in America, but in Europe they are everything but aggressive. They are usually running away before you can see them, and the only attack in my last neighborhood (Warsaw) I've heard of was provoked by the dog. – Danubian Sailor Jun 22 '13 at 20:31
@DanubianSailor, I second that. In France where they roam all the way into the suburbs they are harmless. They run away at the slightest noise. The worst that could happen is they accidentally ram into you, might trip you over, but they won't stay to eat your face off! – PatrickT Oct 24 at 13:41

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I have come across wild boars about a dozen times (I admit, not that much), in numbers from a single male, mothers with young upto groups of 30-40 and I've never felt threatened. Sometimes the leading (fe)male might approach you aggressively just long enough for the rest of the group to run away and then retreat too. I usually stay silent and try to observe them, which has upto now not been seen as a thread or provoked any aggression. While this is probably no different than your own experience, I have too always anticipated the "what if" scenario. What I keep in mind is:

  • Will I be able to distract them by throwing away a jacket or backpack ?
  • If running/climbing something is no option, how can I or we look bigger than we are and scare them off.
  • If they attack and you can't get away, how to avoid them hitting your thigh. I believe the main risk for boars is their tusks piercing your thigh and artery which can cause you to bleed to death much quicker than getting help is possible.


It may be worth taking into account that in some places animals can become more agressive as they lose their fear of humans. Here in Europe hunters may feed animals to create artificial overpopulations, which in some places has resulted in the boars affiliating humans with food. Where this is the case, they are much harder to intimidate and scare off.

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I bike to work here in Japan and sometimes I have to bike back late in the evening (coz of overtime). I live in a mountainous forrested area and there are many boar around (because there's few hunters here). In the past 5 years, boar have crossed my path about 6-7 times (always when it's dark) and they ran at really high speed (there is no way to even outsprint them on a roadbike). I can usually hear them approach through the bushes (sounds like a heavy boulder rolling of a hill). Last night was the first time though a boar -hidden in the bush- started snorting and grumping (I think it was a kind of a warning to let me know it was there). I stopped and staid still, then slowly backed off and waited for a car to drive by so I could kind of follow the car in it's track. The only thing that I have seen on Japanese TV that seemed to do the trick was an umbrella pointed at them and then quickly open it. It just sent the charging boar running in the other direction. However, fat chance I will be able to do that while riding my bike, but it might be a good thing to know if you're hiking.

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do I stand a chance to pretend to be aggressive if they out-number me? Few of the civilians suggested that it works most of the times if they out-number you. They loose their formation and run away.

This sounds like complete nonsense - boars do not have a "formation". They are not predators and will not pursue you (the case where "pretending to be agressive" makes sense is when faced with predators who tend to instinctively pursue anything that runs away). They might form groups for defense, but never for attack.

There is really only three cases where boars might attack humans:

  • When they're cornered / don't have a way to escape
  • A mother sow defending her young against a threat
  • Adult males during mating season

In my experience, as long as the young are small, the families are extremely shy and stay away from humans. Later on, if they are used to encountering humans, they'll just ignore you. The only aggression I've ever experienced was from juvenile males doing a "mock charge" of about half a meter, signalling "don't get any closer to me!". I don't think I've encountered adult males, though.

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I have a friend who's lived with a guy that had a wild boar in a cage in his backyard. When my friend went into the cage to feed it, she was attacked. She was able to get out of the cage but the boar also did and one of it's tusks hit her upper calf. Luckily it didn't hit any arteries and she only has a scar. Worse was also avoided by her climbing on top of her car. The best you can do is climb up higher and hope you don't get one of the rare cases of a boar that will attempt more than one attack. If you can though just avoid being charged at in the first place.

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It all depends on where you are hiking (you may want to edit that into your question) as to the type of wild boar one may encounter.

I have backpacked extensively around the Southwestern U.S. and I've come across as many as 7-10 javelina and they are of little threat to hikers. I had edited that I had never heard of a single attack but then found a snip-it that a Tucson woman walking her three Chihuahuas was attacked in 2006 (although I don't know how credible the source was). In my back-country experience they are afraid of people. I imagine if you had one or more cornered and you were provoking them to the point that they felt threatened they'd give a nasty bite. Attacks to humans are extremely rare. People do refer to them as wild boars but I think of the dark haired large tusked variety and not javelina.

The hyperlink above shows the javelina and facts at the AZ Game and Fish website.

FYI, I would've put this as a comment but don't have that ability yet.

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As others point out, avoiding them is key, and because they're so aggressive it's generally the better stance to take. That said, if you find yourself unavoidably coming up against one then being aggressive can work (though of course this isn't guaranteed.) Often if you attack one and the rest see that you're capable of that, then they'll run away (as seen in this video, ish, though they do come charging back at various points!)

However, it's a big risk, and they won't always run after something like this - they may even go the other way and get more aggressive! So if you think that you have the manpower and weapons to successfully take them on and stand your ground, then you may wish to, but I'd only do this as a last resort - if for instance a member of the party was injured and there was no way to move them. How safe is it? Not very.

As pointed out in the comments, this (already rather substantial) risk increases by orders of magnitude if there's a sow with babies.

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It might work with a adult or two, but acting aggressive to a sow with babies is a really really bad idea. – Olin Lathrop Jun 20 '13 at 22:07

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