Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Wild Boar Cull Starting in Forest of Dean

In September 2011 the Forestry Commission agreed to suspend the cull of wild boar for 12 months. 

As the boar numbers were at a critically low level, this news was welcomed by many including Friends of the Boar.
The boar were able to breed, suckle, wean and live without the stress of being killed and this has seen a far more relaxed population of boar in the Forest of Dean.
However, for the last 12 months the boar have still been killed by poachers, RTA's, natural deaths and legal killing by landowners, reducing their numbers even further.
For the FC to suspend the cull of this animal for a whole year it has to tell you that they realised that this species had been over managed (culled) and that if they didn't give them a reprieve they could stand a real chance of being wiped out.
For the last 12 months Friends of the Boar have been actively recruiting volunteers to send in boar sightings online (confidentially). From all sightings gathered we then knocked off all duplicates from the same areas and we were left with 200 animals.
I understand that not all boar have been sighted and reported, but this is more respectable than the 650 animals estimated by the FC!

The FC have announced that they are to cull 100 wild boar in the Forest of Dean between now and January 2013. This is based on their estimation of 650 boar present at this time.
Now, just imagine that they are wrong in their estimation (like previously) and that there are in fact only 300 boar present at this time. They cull 100, which leaves 200 and then after further RTA's, poaching and legal shooting takes its toll, we could once again be left with a critical level of boar in the Dean.
A recent statement from a newly formed boar panel was "Doing Nothing is not an Option;" this is not animal management, this is not wildlife conservation, this is animal cruelty and murder!

I will now touch on two points.

1. How have I come by the estimation of only 300 wild boar?
Friends of the Boar estimated boar numbers to be below 100, probably around 90 when the FC declared they were abandoning the cull for 12 months in September 2011.
From 90 animals, lets say 50 were sexually mature sows, which mated in the later part of 2011. Given that not all young survive and that a sow can have between 2 and 8 young per-birth, lets say that on average 4 young survived for each sow. This equates to 200 boar and coupled with the 90, this gives us a total of 290, rounded up to 300.

2. What does this mean to our boar?  
The answer to this is quite simple, but at the same time devastating!
Wild boar roam in close knit groups called sounders, except for sexually mature males, which only associate with a sounder during the breeding season. If the boar numbers are at a very low level like we have seen recently, this will dramatically reduce the chances of a male finding suitable females. This can and probably will result in inbreeding, resulting in a dirty gene pool. We have seen this recently with our declining adder populations and as a result we are seeing smaller and infertile snakes.
Given the dirty gene pool and stress endured from culling, this could also make the boar more susceptible to disease such as TB.

I feel the boar were not given time for their numbers to stabilise and I also think there is more to this than just "Having to do Something."
An e-petition is on the way. As soon as it is available it will be posted here and everywhere!

Viva! is already covering our cause here: http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/wild_boar/index.php

FotB Official Website here: http://www.friendsoftheboar.moonfruit.com/

FotB on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheBoar

On a positive note we can announce that we have three patrons.

1. Andy Rouse - http://www.andyrouse.co.uk/
2. Zara Boland - http://www.zarathevet.com/
3. Sarah Jane Honeywell - http://www.sarah-jane.biz/

We welcome all three to our cause and thank them immensely for their support!

This Piglet has been on a long journey. We can make the rest of it a lot easier for him!


1 comment:

  1. Firstly just keep going and plugging away. You are doing a great job.
    Secondly as our countryside is 99% artificially managed so I believe the creatures and humans that use it should also be managed.
    I am staying on a 650 acre, predominantly arable farm. Hedges were going to be flailed the last week. I asked why now and not in early spring/late winter. They didn't know. They did know to keep hedges but no one had explained that birds live on the fruits through winter. They couldn't care less when they flail.
    Sundays they shoot magpie. Good job as they need controlling. They have left a dozen and now leave the dead. Food for lower down the chain.
    I feel the badger cull is just an excuse for a bit of sport but having said that I don't know many hoorays who would wander about with a gun in the wee small hours. Probably end up shooting each other!!! I can see that unless the nature conservancy pays to trap and inoculate or better still inoculate and move them to a different area then there is always going to be a problem.
    Kielder forest would be a wonderful place for wild boar! There's precious little else there.
    Again....Keep plugging away.