Monday, 6 April 2009

Wild Boar Debate

I was recently made aware of a council meeting regarding the future of the wild boar in the Forest of Dean.
The council are to make recommendations to the FC on how best to handle an increase in boar numbers, but we all know what their agenda is?
Cull now, ask questions later!

I contacted them by e-mail, which was given to me by Mr. Bob Bushell, which was given to him by Mr. Dave Slater, for whom I am thankful.

Here are just some of my comments....

I am a wildlife photographer, but this should not cloud any person's judgement on me or what I have to say as I am passionate about the Forest of Dean, not just it's wildlife.
I have been managing areas for the adder and grass snake for many years and I have watched as their numbers have increased in some of my areas. I work hard to try and educate people on our wildlife, including the dangerous and ugly stuff as well as the pretty and safe critters.
I am a volunteer wildlife consultant at Lakers school in Coleford, I write wildlife articles and supply wildlife photographs for the BBC Gloucestershire web-site and I have been a member of NARRS (National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme) from day one, surveying and forwarding valuable data from the Forest of Dean, to hopefully get on top of any decline in reptile and amphibian numbers before it's too late!
One point I would like to make is that I am a busy Company Director for a recruitment agency and all the above is done in my spare time without pay, this is how much this place and it's wildlife means to me.
Wild boar have no natural predators, but this is something that has been overcome before! The fallow deer have no natural predators in the Dean also, so they are managed to keep their numbers in check and to take out the sick or injured deer. What you are left with is a healthy herd of deer, which encourages tourists as well as helping to keep the forest flora neat and tidy (and don't forget the revenue they produce).
However, the big issue with the wild boar is the road verges, yes? They run around the roads ripping up the verges and jumping in front of every car, which passes, no? That is what some people think when they are asked about the wild boar. It is these people, which in turn spread the word that the wild boar are dangerous and a menace to anyone out driving and walking in the forest. This is plain and simple scaremongering from individuals that can not see the whole picture.
I have said this many times before and will keep saying it, the armchair critics have a lot to answer for when it comes down to persecuting our wildlife.
They are far too keen to condemn a certain species on the word of a fellow colleague, without actually thoroughly researching and getting out there to see for themselves what is actually going on.
How many people from the council, which are involved in this debate have seen a wild boar, in the wild, in the Forest of Dean? I would dearly love to know this answer.
When will we learn that the answer is not to eradicate, but to manage. I am bringing my two daughters up to respect all wildlife as everything has a right to live and even though we say we are superior? I feel ashamed at the way some wild animals are treated.


Out of sight, out of mind springs to mind!

Some people, which do not understand, believe what they are told and what they read, it is all the negativity from the local newspapers that isn't helping. If they said something positive about the boar it would take the heat of them and they may stand a chance of being accepted over time. Or are they too spineless to write something positive in case of a backlash?
There is this little thing called the cosmetic syndrome. It is a phrase I use when animals are targeted because they do not fit in.
Imagine if all of a sudden the fallow deer started ripping up the road verges and fields! Would there be an outcry to eradicate them from out forests? Or would everyone come together to help find a solution for poor little bambi?
But when it's the wild boar, it's kill them all, more will come and they will kill our children. I feel very sad as I was born and have lived in the Dean all my life, but I feel like nothing has been learnt from previous mistakes.
The wild boar were native to the Dean centuries ago, before they were hunted to extinction. The fallow deer however, are not native, the roe deer is our true native deer yet the fallow deer is loved. There is the cosmetic thing again!
I am not naive and I understand that having a mammal like the wild boar in the Dean could cause problems un-related to nature, but surely we have seen poaching and illegal hunting with the deer? If the boars were managed to a small controllable number, surly this would make it too difficult for hunters to track them down?
As pointed out earlier, if the general public were asked what is the worst thing they could think of regarding the boar in the Dean, 90% of them would say "the road verges being a mess", why? Because 90% of the general public have not even seen a boar, and that's fact!
Everyone has a right to be heard, but please don't listen and make a judgment on the back of what the Sunday dog walker says, or on the state of the road verges. This animal does not deserve to be eradicated just because it likes to eat worms!
Please try and take some possitives from the boar. Surly they can be managed and the revenue they would produce could go towards tidying up the road verges, which would not only create jobs, but would also help with the collection of litter from our roadsides.



  1. A good letter you have written, well done.

  2. Thanks Bob, I got the standard copy and paste reply back.
    That bloody annoys me when they can't even be bothered to answer you with their own words, they just use a script.

    You will find me tied to a tree in a furry costume on the edge of the road at speech house if they start exterminating them, I have the suit already.

  3. You speak for the silent majority Rob! You're right that the verges could be repaired easily, but it's not. Maybe someone wants the verges to incite anger against the boar? Yet no-one complains when timber harvesters totally wreck long stretches of footpath and track and woodland ride. Nor do the mole hills get a mention, and as for the litter along verges, or offroad parking damage? You see, it's ignorance that breeds fear. Folk prefer to get their info from the press. No-one reads books or listens to you and me and hundreds of other folk who have been up close to the boar, they unthinkingly believe what the local rag has to say. The boar could become a MAJOR tourist attraction for the Dean, like Brown bear in Finland, Polar bear in Canada, Lion in Kenya, Alligator in Florida. Why is the rest of the world proud of their charismatic and slightly dangerous animals, but the English are cowardly, whinging poms who are too lazy to even try and see the boar, who are not even dangerous? A breeding male stag is more dangerous, but folk don't complain cos they're ignorant of this fact, or accept the risk is minimal. Risk from boar attack is less than a falling branch! Too attack the boar without knowing all this just shows how ignorant someone is!

    keep up the good work Rob.

    David Slater

  4. Thanks Dave, wise words.

    You mention about the forestry tracks being ripped up! Have you walked down the one opposite the crematorium near the Dilke hospital recently? I'll tell you what, if you fell into one of those ruts caused by the forestry vehicles, the best you could hope for would be a severely twisted ankle, but you would most probably end up breaking it or your leg!
    Like you said, they leave the road verges in a mess and use it for amunition against the boar, yet the majority of people, which see this are unaware of the carnage left in the forestry's wake.
    I am going to make it my mission to photograph and document all the damage caused by the forestry and compare it to our road verges, then offer it to a local newspaper for publication. The public need to be made aware that the forestry have a out of sight, out of mind policy.


  5. im not very good wirh words but totally agree with your self bob bushell and dave slater ,there are more dangerous pet dogs out there than boar im out in the woods alot with my wife and two dogs and had about four encouters with wild boar in as many years all of which they come and have a closer look because of there short sight then make a grunt and run away but the gun ho fc think different and try to bluff the public ,to me they are no danger at all ,let them be

  6. Correct, wild boar are mainly nocternal now, but if a member of the public are lucky enough to see one it's all blown out of proportions and the next thing you hear is that they are all over the place, stalking dogs. This is just out of control gossip and scaremongering.

    Talking of dogs in the forest...
    I was at woregreens lake with my two daughters a couple of years ago and a large dog ran towards us (off the lead), I grabbed my two girls and held them behind me, the dog ran up and stopped around 3 - 4 feet in front of me then turned and ran back from where it had came from.
    A man and woman who owned the dog saw what happened and jokingly said "oh he wont hurt you", I said "how the bloody hell am I supposed to know that?".
    With this they walked away offended, but my youngest was only 9 at the time and a dog of that size could have done some serious damage!