Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Help Save the Wild Boar

Wild Boar Cull Has Started

When does wildlife require management? This is one question that offers much debate, especially when it is a cute, lovable critter like the badger.
Well, over 100,000 signatures so far on the "Stop the Badger Cull" petition and a massive thank you to everyone that has taken the time to sign and share this e-petition.

Now, lets move onto another species, the Wild Boar. This animal is being culled in the Forest of Dean as we speak and for what reason? None, except to keep the minority happy and to probably meet the demanding meat quotas!
The estimation of wild boar numbers in the Forest of Dean varies wildly from 200 to 650, so from this, how can Forestry Commission Rangers (be ordered) to shoot this animal when there is no proof of realistic numbers?
It is often reported in the press that these animals are prolific breeders that can have multiple births per-year and have as many as 18 piglets per-sow. This is untrue and these wild statements are from people who keep or have kept domestic pigs in the past.
Domestic pigs can have large litters and can produce more than one litter per-year. The reason for this is they have their food supplied and usually have shelter. In short they have a luxurious lifestyle when compared to "wild" wild boar, which have to find all their own food and have to rough it, "every night", rain, sleet and snow!
A wild boar sow has a gestation period of 4 months; she then has to suckle and wean her young, which takes a further 3 months. For a "wild" wild boar sow to raise 18 piglets, recover and then do it all again in one year is near on impossible and the people making these wild claims should stop and realise their mistake.

The Forestry Commission claim there are between 600 and 650 wild boar in the Forest of Dean

Friends of the Boar claim there are between 200 and 250

So who is right and how have they come up with these figures?

Over the last year the Forestry Commission has used their rangers to log boar sightings. These sightings were mapped and then shown to Friends of the Boar.
One thing that became evident was that "ALL" sightings were logged and from this, we suspect that as many as 50% or more could  have been duplicates of boar already recorded. 
The result was a total number of between 600 & 650. Huh! Well what is it FC, 600 or 650?

Friends of the Boar also conducted a survey over the last 12 months, but unlike the FC we used local people, visitors and of course our own eyes on the ground. We dismissed all sightings sent in from the same areas where boar had already been recorded as they were probably duplicates.
After more than 100 individuals sent in their results, we were left with a number of 200.

We understand that this is an underestimate, so lets say there are, "were" 250 boar at the end of August 2012. Take into account natural deaths, poaching, RTA's and legal shooting by private landowners and the real number could be as low as 200.

The Forestry Commission announced they are to cull 100 wild boar from 1st September 2012 to 1st January 2013 and if the numbers are as low as we suspect, this could mean that after the FC has finished their cull there could be as little as 100 wild boar left in the Forest of Dean.
This is not wildlife management and it certainly isn't wildlife conservation, especially as they, the FC have also announced that 400 wild boar is an acceptable number for the Forest of Dean!

In 2011 the Forestry Commission conducted a night time census, to show the public that there were indeed hundreds of wild boar roaming our woods. After 3 months the census was binned. Why? They only found a small handful of boar and were left humiliated. It wasn't long after that they announced that they were suspending the cull for a whole 12 months, so that the boars numbers could recover.
With the boar numbers being so low (under 100) it would take more than 12 months for them to stabilise and this is why this cull must be stopped - NOW!

Wild Boar Census Announced

Oops! 16 wild boar found, when the FC estimated there were 350

With 100 boar to be shot over the coming few months, we will once again see this animal struggle to survive. It will promote stress throughout the remaining sounders (groups), which can lead to disease such as TB.

The boar have been roaming wild in the Forest of Dean for more than 8 years now and I would like to ask the question; when are they going to stop using excuses such as... 
"They are dangerous" 
"They root up our road verges"
"They eat children"
"They chase and kill dogs"
"They will eat all of our bluebells"

Guess what? Our bluebells are still here and to date, no child has been eaten. 
Yes, in the past dogs have died and that is unfortunate. I own a dog myself and I "can" imagine how they feel / felt when this happened. However, since Friends of the Boar have pushed and pushed education out there for members of the public and visitors, incidents between boar and dogs has dropped dramatically.

As for this animal being dangerous, how do we define the word dangerous where the wild boar is concerned?
1. It Bites?
3. It can Gore you?

1. Fox's can bite, badgers can bite, squirrels can bite, adders can bite but more to the point DOGS CAN AND DO BITE! 
The adder is our only venomous snake in Britain and if bitten, even the healthiest adult human can die if they suffer an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock and they do not receive medical assistance. If a child is bitten it can be extremely serious.

2. Yes boar can bite like the dog and snake. They can also gore, but they aren't the only animal in our forest capable of this. Fallow deer can gore and kill with their antlers.

Does the above sound like scaremongering? If you have answered yes, then look at what is being said about the boar. To date no one has been gored or bitten by this animal. We live along side many other wildlife species that are capable of injuring us, yet we do not give them a second thought. Why? No one has been seriously injured by one, that's why, the same as the boar.
I wonder how long it will take for people to fully accept them as a true native, British species?



Many thanks from the wildlife in the Forest of Dean for your help and support.

A sow and her piglet, photographed in 2012

One the hit list; wild boar and badger


1 comment:

  1. I'm fascinated about wild boars in your area where they've re-established after hundreds of years of being absent. The attitudes and reasons for culling are slightly different there than here in CA where wild boars were introduced, crossed with domesticated pigs, and now cover much of the state. There's quite the movement to get rid of every one of these nonnatives over concerns for fragile native habitats and agricultural fields (destruction of crops and E. coli contamination). Local Fort Ord has had them since 2004. The land managers have killed over 100 and guess that there are 6 still out among 15,000 acres and surrounding fields. I've never seen any mention here about them being physically dangerous, except as road hazards. I don't understand the reasons for culling where they were once native. How the heck did the FC estimate 400 is an acceptable number? I suspect wild boar populations will naturally self-limit, so why not let them be?