Had an eventful couple of weeks with the wild boar as they start to become more active with their little ones.
The vast majority of wild boar births happen between late February to early March after a gestation period of around 4 months and this is a good time to see them as the little ones are very active, learning the ways of the world from mum.
This is the first year that they have been given the luxury of a closed season and this is vital as the piglets are dependant on the sows milk for around 3 to 4 months. Along with two colleagues, I actively campaigned for a closed season from January to June/July so that the young ones have a chance at life, but the main reason is that if a sow is shot, the little ones will starve to death without the support from the sow.
The Forestry Commission agreed to this, but instead of resuming the cull as and when the piglets are independent and able to survive on their own, they have chosen to suspend and review the cull in September.
There is a reason behind this and I hope that it isn't to try and discredit me and my colleagues as we will see a big increase in boar numbers between now and September as the little ones grow and venture further afield.
Whatever the reason I still stand by the fact that it is immoral to kill an animal with dependant young!
Its not always easy spotting the boar and this was my first glimpse of a sounder (group) after at least 5 miles of tracking.
Seeing them is one thing, but getting close to get a decent shot is another! I was creeping up to get a better look at the sow when I noticed movement in the reeds. A piglet was staring straight at me and this is usually where it all goes wrong as they give you away in an instant.
I was low to the ground, out of sight of the sow and it was just a case of waiting to see if the sow would either ignore the piglet, or come and investigate.
She came to investigate!
After watching me through the trees for a while she decided to come up for a better look!
Then she heard passers and also realising I was human she rounded up her young, disappearing into the forest.
I moved on to try and track down some more in a different location and it wasn't long before the tell tale signs started showing.
Boar poo - I try not to lye and roll around in this!
Then all of a sudden a sow stood up right in front of me!
I crouched down out of sight, but it was too late and she was gone. I was gutted, but when they are lying down in the bracken its very tough knowing they are there until its too late.
I decided to stay in the area for around an hour when all of a sudden I heard movement in the forest and it sounded heavy. I crouched behind a tree and watched as two sows and around 7 - 8 piglets came out into the open.
The sow knew I was there, but she must have decided that I was no threat and brought her little ones out to show me.
I decided to go back to this location today and sure enough, within 10 minuets I found them again. This time the sow saw me from the start, but as I kept my distance and crept up slowly she didn't seem to mind.
Its fantastic being in the presence of the wild boar and to be able to sit within a metre of them and their young while they are acting perfectly natural is a real treat.
Pics from today...
Respect these animals and their home and ypu can have some truly memorable experiences being around them.
PS: I didn't take my dog!