While the northern capital’s municipality argues with the Nature and Parks Authority over who is responsible for dealing with the local hog problem, experts say the number of boars in the city will double within a year if they are not removed

Lior El-Hai | 03.21.21

Seeing a lone boar strutting along the streets of the northern city of Haifa used to be a rare sight, but today these roaming rogues have become a common and growing problem.

According to Haifa’s residents, herds of wild boar can often be seen roaming the city’s streets, wreaking havoc and destroying property, and in some rare cases even turning hostile and attacking people.

A wild boar naps on an abandoned mattress in Haifa
Boars roaming in Haifa
(Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

Unlike her predecessors who chose to cull the boar population through hunting, Haifa’s current mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem decided to solve the problem with non-lethal means. She has opted to deny the pigs any sources of food and water in the city, such as reinforcing trash cans to prevent the animals from reaching the discarded food inside. These measures have not found favor with some local officials who say they are useless.

חזירי בר בחיפה
Boars roaming in Haifa
(Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

“All of these steps are like performing acupuncture on a dead body,” says Haifa municipal member Itzik Balas. “There is a group of boar fans in Haifa, and they are sweeping the mayor along in their wake. I have been saying for a long time that we must dilute the boar population by hunting. There is no other choice,” he says.

“Boars roaming in the city are a health hazard. People are also being attacked and some are too afraid to leave their homes,” says Balas. ”According to expert estimates, there are already 7,000 pigs in Haifa, and that number will double each year.”

At recent protest by Haifa locals, the city dwellers claimed that Kalisch-Rotem had torpedoed any realistic solution to the issue.“We sat down with senior city officials, agreed on actions, issued a working document with schedules and goals, and then they terminated contact with us by order of the mayor,” says Yaron Hanan, a former member of Haifa City Council.

Protesters in Haifa protesting against boar hunting
Haifa residents protesting against boar hunting. The sign reads: Returning the boars to nature!
(Photo: Lior El-Hai)

And while some want the problem solved by any means, there are those who vehemently oppose the prospect of culling the boar population by hunting.”Other solutions must be found to ensure the pigs don’t have food sources available,” said one activist.Kalisch-Rotem believes the rampant increase in the city’s boar population is a problem for the Nature and Parks Authority to handle.“

[Taking care of the] wild boars has always been the duty of the Nature and Parks Authority, and it is time for them to start taking responsibility,” wrote the mayor on her Facebook page. “I will not endanger the residents of the city and the municipality itself by allowing illegal hunting (which has been proven ineffective) with live fire close to private homes and without full, written permits from all the relevant authorities.”

A warning sign in Haifa warning of boars in the area
A road sign in Haifa warns of boars in the area
(Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

Nature and Parks Authority chief Shaul Goldstein says the organization had tried to help but had been rebuffed by Kalisch-Rotem. “

The Authority does not operate in urban areas that are within the purview of a municipality,” he says. “We prepared a detailed plan on how to deal with the swine crisis. Unfortunately however, [the mayor] failed to take responsibility.”

חזירי בר בחיפה
Boars roaming in Haifa
(Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

But Haifa Municipality insists the Nature and Parks Authority is responsible for dealing with the pig problem. “The Nature and Parks Authority is the body in charge of supervising wildlife,” the local council said. “The Authority recently complied with a municipality request to approve the capture of wild boars that threaten residents. In the wake of this approval, the municipality began placing cages and anesthetizing wild boars in places where encounters with residents had been reported.“T

he municipality has been utilizing every proven means of keeping the wild boars away. However, it is not enough, since this is a regional phenomenon that demands comprehensive action that the Authority must lead.”