Barcelona may be famous for architecture, the Catalan lifestyle and culture that attracts tens of millions of visitors a year but there’s another more unwelcome guest.
The Spanish city is the unwilling and sometimes unwitting front line in a war played out in the dark between humans and animals, or wild boar to be precise.
Barcelona has a nervous frontier with the Collserola National Park, a towering 500 metre high buffer of heavily forested rocks between the city and the wilds.
And every night hundreds of wild boar make their way from the park into the sleeping city to feast on waste and rubbish left behind by human visitors during the day.
The police routinely deal with more than a thousand calls a year about boar raiding bins, obstructing traffic and making a general nuisance,writes Bernhard Warner in The Guardian.
Fighting for survival
The city authority has even set up a gang of boar trappers to cull the population of hungry hogs.
Wild boar are not cuddly pets. They are disease ridden, aggressive and a threat, especially to children, who can pick up uncomfortable and sometime fatal illnesses from the animals.
The main risk is African Swine Fever, which is harmless to humans, has no vaccine, but kills every pig or boar that is infected within days.
And it’s not only Barcelona fighting for survival – boar are infiltrating towns and cities across Europe.
Farmers in Spain blame them for damaging crops worth almost £100 million a year.
Berlin has a squad of hunters targeting boar, as does the Texas Wildlife Service and even the authorities in Sydney, Australia, are embroiled in the battle.
“Wild pigs can run up to 30 mph. They can jump over fences up to three feet high and have climbed out of pig traps with walls five to six feet high,” said Billy Higginbotham, a wildlife conservation expert in Texas.
Wild boar are thought to number thousands worldwide. In a small country like Wales, 4,000 are wandering wild.
Typically, man has introduced them to every continent except Antarctica, where some have escaped to join in wild colonies.