News about wild boar has been in the new a lot this year, and the Ministry of Environment and local governments announced that they will control their numbers by mobilizing hundreds of hunters, and paying them, to kill them.
To make matters worse, wild boar are now swimming several kilometers to islands to find food and damaging crops in the process. Consequently, people on these islands are also eager to kill them. Because of this, it is not unusual that people in Korea see no problem with simply killing wild boar.
Not just wild boar, however. Local governments do not hesitate to kill other wildlife in the name of protecting other assets from harmful wild animals.
Has the number of wild animals, including boar, increased?
We must ascertain whether the number of wild animals is increasing or not. This is because it can potentially push wild animal populations to extinction when indiscriminate killing lasts for a long time.
We can see that the increased number of wild boar that the Ministry of Environment has recently reported is the density not the population as they have been suddenly appearing in villages. However, we need to understand the fundamental causes to prepare sustainable, effective, and appropriate countermeasures. Is it because of the extinction of their natural enemy and their fertility? Or is it due to the decrease of their habitat which made them appear frequently in villages?
It is necessary to reconsider population control methods
If the wild boar population is too large and damage to the ecosystem directly relates to human life, we can control the population for a while. Yet, it is necessary to investigate the precise population size and analyze the accurate causes of its increase.
Without these investigations, we must be careful not to read too much into cases of damage, and not be too quick to decide that hunting is the best way of controlling the population. Population control must be humane, and hunting must not be normalized as a method of achieving it.
Indiscriminate killing leads to extinction
Also, we must not choose hunting over coexistence with animals. Past policies, which considered humans to be more important, chose hunting as the best way to protect our species from other animals; thus, a lot of wild animals went extinct. Tigers and wolves, which could prey on humans, went extinct in Korea under Japanese imperial rule due to reckless over-hunting.
Endo Gimio, a wildlife writer, pointed out that the Korean tiger went extinct because of the Japanese. He stated that “The Japanese Governor-General of Korea regarded tigers as an obstacle to the development of some areas in Korea, so they hunted predatory animals including tigers every year. As a Japanese person, I feel so ashamed and sorry that Korean tigers went extinct.”
During the Joseon Dynasty period, some animals such as tigers were considered monsters. This attitude has also led to them being over-hunted.
Is it possible that we will hear about the extinction of wild boar in Korea in several years? I think we will. Although wild boar have become an apex predator in the wild, their habitat and food sources are disappearing due to human activity such as hunting and environment destruction. Nowadays, wild boar have fewer places to live, and because of this it may not be too long until wild boar do become extinct in Korea.
Reconsider the way humans and animals can coexist
Without careful investigation, accurate data and effective countermeasures, the solution of hunting and killing will always have the potential to lead to extinction.
As in the past, the government will not consider the animals’ position. And through this government’s policy, animals are not the only ones that are being harmed. If we had thought about the issue of wild boar more carefully, we would have known that hunting cannot be the best solution. We must take warning from the past and not repeat the mistakes made.
For example, attempts to cull feral cats in Tasmania, Australia, and to cull ferrets in the United Kingdom resulted in populations increasing to above pre-cull levels. The reason for the increase was two-fold. First, the removal of adults allowed the young who would have normally died to move into the area, and second, the creation of more space and the availability of more resources encouraged increased breeding.
We must always remember that all animals are links in a very complex inter-dependent chain; what happens to one species may have consequences that we cannot foresee. Blindly eradicating one species because it is perceived as a pest at best merely reduces biodiversity for future generations, but at worst could ultimately pose an existential threat to us.
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