You will find a link below to my latest wildlife column. This colour on-line edition will only be available for one week, so I have copied the text below also.
The vast majority of our wildlife is capable of sustaining and managing itself. However, we now live in a world where deforestation and loss of habitat is making life very hard for a great number of our wildlife species.
Wildlife management takes many forms, but the one that has to be the most unpopular with animal lovers and with people who do not understand the importance of it has to be the culling of certain species.
Personally I don’t like this word as it gives the impression that an entire species is going to be wiped out. The term wildlife management instead of cull is more appropriate IMO.
Up until the 12th century, wolves roamed much of Britain without much of a threat from man and they helped with the natural process of predation. Edward the First ordered the extermination of the wolf in 1281 and by the late 16th to the early 17th century they were extinct from British soil. This may seem like a long time, but it has been reported that there were around 10,000 wolves in Britain at their peak and the mature breeding females from 10,000 wolves would have produced a lot of offspring every year!
The extinction of this animal in Britain left other animals like the deer with no natural predators. As a result, Scotland now has a problem with red deer and as the area is so vast, culling is proving inadequate. Talks are still continuing on the reintroduction of wolves to help with this problem.
In the Forest and Wye Valley, fallow and muntjac deer have one fawn per year, per doe whereas roe deer doe’s have two, usually of different sexes. The management of this species is easier when compared with a species that is capable of producing multiple offspring. Wild boar sows typically have between 3 and 8 young per sow, per year in the wild and although uncommon they can sometimes have two litters per year.
From these statistics alone, I don’t have to explain how this species could breed out of control if not managed.
I talked briefly about balance in my last article and this is a good example of how balance works, but also how it can be damaged. If we eradicate a predator, we must take over the management of the prey species or they will over populate and the consequences can be unimaginable. The species would become weak from lack of food and disease would then spread quickly throughout that species. In turn the disease could easily be transmitted to our other wildlife and even domestic animals.
No animal lover likes the thought of our wildlife being shot, but we must think logically and support the management of our wildlife.
One more thought. It is a long way off, but even if the wild boars become accepted in the Forest and Wye Valley, their numbers would still need to be controlled every year.