Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Wild Boar Cull Update & a Few Pics

The wild boar have been present in the Forest of Dean for nearly 10 years now and for the last 6 or 7 of these, the anti-boar brigade come out of hiding at this time of the year with their rants.
The rants have been at a surprisingly low level compared to recent years, except for one local area, or Hamlet as the local press refers to it.

Two gentlemen who live in the quaint little Hamlet, tucked deep into the Forest of Dean recently went to the BBC with their complaints regarding the wild boar.
If you are interested, the article can be found HERE
As they were quick enough to go to the BBC with their concerns and comments, I am sure they will be more than eager to know what other people think. 

So here goes...

Now I have no objection to people complaining as this is their right, but to move (recently) into an area, which is about as deep into the forest as you can get, where wild boar are known to be and have been living wild for many years, and giving that the one residence is a pub. Surely they expected wildlife on their doorstep?

To do this, knowing very well that the boar were there and to now ask for the wildlife to be exterminated is basically, in my opinion, sick!

The Forestry Commission are currently culling (managing) the wild boar in the Forest of Dean, but this isn't enough for certain folk, as they are saying "not enough are being killed" and they want them completely eradicated.
What I would like to know is where these people stand when it comes to wildlife ecology? Do they have a PhD in wildlife management, wild boar, wildlife/forest ecology? No they don't, so their venting is based on a pure hatred for this animal and nothing more.

Everyone has a right to live in any area they want to, but if you choose to live in an area where you know "what wildlife is present" and then ask for it to be exterminated because you don't like it and want perfectly manicured Forestry Commission land outside your boundary fence is ridiculous and persecution beyond words.

At least the wild boar has some heavyweights behind them, backing them up in the form of Andy Rouse & Chris Packham who became our Patrons last year.

Andy Says... (photo coming soon)

"The Wild Boar was a native species in the UK for thousands of years playing an intrinsically important role in our landscapes ecology.
Now it has returned to some areas we need to adapt to accept its presence and manifest a rational tolerance to its behaviours and impacts on our lives.
It is a real and very positive agent amongst our impoverished and persecuted fauna.
Please live and let the boar live too"

Chris Says...

Chris Packham - Patron to UKWBT

I am sure that the professionals, charged with the management of the wild boar in the Forest of Dean will not bow down and give in to these persecutors and do what is right for the animal and the forest, and manage them correctly.

What I would love more than anything, is for either one of the gentlemen screaming for the boar's blood to ask me to "put up with it" as I would gladly swap my modest town home for a home, deep in the forest surrounded by wildlife. I would be in heaven and I can only but hope that they take me up on the offer, but I don't think this will be happening!

One of the main problems with wild boar hanging around residential areas is down to the fact that people are feeding them and although UKWBT has spend hundreds of pounds on more than one campaign to help see this stopped, unfortunately it is still happening and we are still getting reports of feeding and tame boar throughout the Forest of Dean.

The image below shows a male boar nicknamed (Freddy the Freeloader) at a popular picnic site in the Forest of Dean, walking brazenly amongst locals and tourists during the summer.
Now ask yourself this question. Is this the fault of the animal or is this the fault of the people responsible for habituating him, causing his to lose his natural fear of humans be feeding him?
Remember, every wild animal we tame, we are forever responsible for. 

Freddy - Fed regularly and lost his fear of humans

Well, I suppose we only have to take this persecution until late January early February and then the grass will grow back and the boar can breath a sigh of relief until the Autumn of 2014, when the rants will start again!

Now, to put you in good spirits here are are a few images from the archives. I haven't been able to get out recently due to a ruptured disk in my back, but with Autumn around the corner at least we have some wonderful colours to look forward to (I'm just glad boar can't climb trees!!!)

Pond Skater

Melanistic Adder Basking

Female Adder Basking

Same Female - Macro Portrait

Autumn - Forest of Dean

Autumn - Forest of Dean

Autumn - Forest of Dean

Amethyst Deceiver 

Extra Large Fungi!


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Wild Boar - More Dangerous than Guns & Drugs?

Forest & Wye Valley Review - Wednesday 2nd October 


Tell me something PLEASE, is it just me or is wild boar rooting in the Forest of Dean more important than guns and drugs being seized in the county?
So why is it that the Review Newspaper seems to think it is?

Has the FoD gone mad, or maybe just the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review with it's wildlife hating editor?

Yes, of course boar rooting is an issue for some and deserves a place in the media, but this newspaper (The Review), nor any of the other local publications for that matter actually takes the time to go into detail as to why this happens "at this time of year, every year."
Do they even know why the boar root at this time of the year?

And I wonder who chose the words - "Questions are being asked about the future of wild boar in the Dean."
The Editor again no doubt? So, Mr. *****, please don't forget that you are talking about a living creature, which has as much right to live as any other creature on this planet, including human beings. They are being killed as we speak so don't bloody say nothing is being done to control them either!!!

Someone, or rather a few are getting very rich off these animals and it doesn't need a mathematician to work out that there are hundreds of boar being killed legally and illegally every year, as I have detailed below.

Where is the money going?
Do this animal some justice and do some PROPER research and please answer this in your next article Mr. Editor.

Consider yourself lucky that no other mammal alive today has the capability to cull as we do, as you can be sure, we would be No1 on the list!

You will find below, some simple arithmetic, which will hopefully show that, like I said, hundreds of boar are being slaughtered right under our noses every year.
Why doesn't this make it into the media? Because like I said, someone is getting very rich off this and as well as upsetting these people with guns, it also means someone has to do some "real reporting."

The below is based on averages, with each sow giving birth once a year and successfully raising 4 young.

Year 1
100 boar present with 50% being female
50 females successfully raise 4 young per season (average)
Coupled with original 100, this gives us 300
20% mortality rate - Legal/illegal killing, RTA's & natural death
This leaves us with 240

Year 2
240 boar present with 50% being female
120 females successfully raise 4 young per season (average)
Coupled with original 240, this gives us 720
20% mortality rate - Legal/illegal killing, RTA's & natural death
This leaves us with 576


Year 3
576 boar present with 50% being female
288 females successfully raise 4 young per season (average)
Coupled with original 576, this gives us 1,728
20% mortality rate - Legal/illegal killing, RTA's & natural death
This leaves us with 1,382

Year 4
1,382 boar present with 50% being female
691 females successfully raise 4 young per season (average)
Coupled with original 1,382, this gives us 2,073
20% mortality rate - Legal/illegal killing, RTA's & natural death
This leaves us with 1,658

Year 5
1,658 boar present with 50% being female
829 females successfully raise 4 young per season (average)
Coupled with original 1,658, this gives us 4,975
20% mortality rate - Legal/illegal killing, RTA's & natural death
This leaves us with 3,980

I photographed my first wild boar late in 2004. That is nearly 10 years ago, not five as detailed above, so you can add at least another 2,500 to this number = 6,480 boar unaccounted for.

It was recently admitted by the Forestry Commission that we currently have, in the region of 535 boar in the Forest of Dean in 2013.
So how do they account for the FIVE THOUSAND, NINE HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE BOAR, which should be here?

To all the critics who say that wild boar can have multiple births per-year AND have in excess of 12 offspring per-birth, "YOU" can quadruple this number.
So, if you "THE SO CALLED BOAR EXPERTS" are right, where are the 23,780 boar?

I have no idea how much is paid on the black market for wild boar meat, but let's just say it is £2 per-pound and that each animal weighs an "average" of 150lbs.
£300 per animal multiplied by a modest 3,000 boar = £900,000. Yep, that is close to ONE MILLION POUNDS!

Now, this is aimed directly at the people who "ARE" getting rich off these animals. How about anonymously donating some money to the unfortunate people who lose their lawns, football pitches and see high vet bills?
Surely £300 from £900,000 is hardly going to break the bank is it?

To the Review - Please try and report the whole facts instead of just persecuting an animal, which didn't ask to be here in the first place by the way?


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Flee or Die?

I should have just copied and pasted my post from this time last year, but I will make this one unique and start from fresh again.

It's that time of the year and unfortunately the wild boar have made their presence known throughout the area, rooting around the road verges and in (one reported) instance, rooting up someone's lawn.

Article HERE

The next four to five months will see a bombardment from people screaming for the boar to be killed and even eradicated from the area due to them rooting over the road verges.
I understand that if boar manage to enter private property, they can do an awful amount of damage and this can be heartbreaking for the owners.
Apart from erecting a sturdy fence or building a wall high enough to stop them, there really isn't much that can be done to stop them if they are attracted to the property.
All it takes is for fruit from a tree to be lying on the ground, or waste food and this will be enough to attract them.

I really do feel for the people, which lose their lawns in this way and I also understand that not everyone has the money to secure their perimeter, so they really are left in despair.

The Forestry Commission are currently culling 135 wild boar in the Forest of Dean and if I was in this situation, I would be asking them to concentrate on the areas that are seeing boar rooting around, or on private land as this will stop the problem and the FC can leave the boar alone, in the middle of the forest where they are causing no harm to anyone.

Moving on to the present cull of 135 animals. Without information (through the Freedom of Information Act), I can only assume that boar are being culled in the forest, away from residential areas and we must once again ask the question. "Why is it that we see a cull at this time every year and at precisely the same time we see an increase in activity around the roadside and residential areas?"
Are the boar being forced to seek out safer locations, away from the guns? I have said this before, but if someone was walking down the street shooting my neighbours, I would not just sit there and wait for my turn, I would either fight back, or run.
The boar are running and this has also been touched on, in a slightly different way with the badgers. With badgers it is called the perturbation effect, where a threatened badger will flee the sett in search of safer ground, taking TB with it, if it is infected.
The boar are fleeing the safety of the area they are in and as the Forestry Commission can not shoot near residential areas, this is where the boar feel safe.
They are very smart animals and they are trying to stay alive, nothing more. All the FC has to do is concentrate on the boar, in the areas where the problems are occurring and push them back into the forest.
I mean lets face it, if they are being pushed out, why not shoot near the edges and push them back in as they will then feel that the periphery is not safe, whereas the denser parts are!

We are too quick to scream kill kill kill, but how many people have actually stopped for just one second to look in the mirror as we have caused more damage in the Forest of Dean than the boar will "ever cause."

The difference is that our damage is irreversible, whereas the boar are actually airing and cultivating the soil.
Slight difference there and it really should not be referred to as damage "all the time!"

Wild Boar Sow - in the Forest 

Wild Boar Sow with Piglets - in the Forest

Wild Boar Sow Rooting - in the Forest

Wild Boar Rooting on Industrial Estate During the Cull of 2010



Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Boaring Dragonflies

Here is an update for all things wildlife related, that I have been up to over the last few weeks.


I attended a meeting on Monday 19th August at the Forestry Commission offices to discuss wild boar populations and the planned management for 2013/14.
After the meeting, neither side were happy with the outcome, but at least we managed to come to a compromise.
Full details will come soon.

Meanwhile, here are some recent boar photographs, taken in the Forest of Dean. Light conditions were poor and for all you photo geeks out there I used the following settings.

ISO 3,200
Manual exposure -1
1/60 second
Hand held - (Like a Rock)

One of this years piglets

Sow, rooting for grubs

Sow, rooting for grubs

Found a grub!

Does my snout look big in this?


Anyone who has tried to capture dragonflies in flight will know that this is no easy task. They are continually on the move and you have to be very patient.

I sat by an old tree overlooking a pond and waited for one to come my way. It was getting dusky so I dropped the exposure by three stops and popped in some flash to arrest them in flight.
This also gave the impression that I photographed them at night.

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

Southern Hawker Dragonfly


I headed out to one of my best locations for adders a few days ago, knowing that it was going to be tough due to the length of the grass and bracken.
It proved virtually impossible but I didn't give in. This was what was in front of me.

Adder Habitat
Its hard to imagine that adders favour this, but in the grass are loads of old, disused ant hills and the adders bask on top and around them.
I managed to find four adders (or rather they found me), but after I nearly stood on one and two more hissed at me before I saw them, it was time to call it a day.
This will prove yet again to be my best recording site for 2013. I just need to wait a few more weeks.


I decided to check out the insects at this site and I wasn't disappointed. Loads of butterflies were swarming around the heather and although I really wanted to photograph an adder, my attention soon turned to the insects.


Small Copper

Common Blue


Our 2014 charity calendar is not ordered and ready for delivery, so please follow the link at the end of this post to order.
100% of all profits will go to the following...

Macmillan Cancer Care
Maggies Cancer Care Centres
Wildlife Trust

To order a calendar, please click HERE


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Charity Calendar Available Now

Along with a good friend, Scott Passmore, we have teamed up to bring you our very first charity calendar.
Between us we have the ability to produce something very special, which will in turn help some very special organisations and we believe we have done this.
Our 2014 Charity Calendar is now ready to pre-order.

"All profits" will be split between the following...
Click for more info

Maggie's Centres

Macmillan Cancer Support

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

There are some truly stunning "wild" wildlife and landscape images inside, which will make perfect Christmas / Birthday presents, or just hang one on your own wall.

To pre-order, please follow the link below.

Many thanks


Saturday, 29 June 2013

Busy Times!

Sorry for being quiet lately. As always I have been extremely busy with all things wildlife, so excuse the bombardment below, but here is an update as to what I have been up to over the last few weeks.
Unfortunately one of my hard drives crashed and I lost the majority of my images from 2013. Hopefully they can be retrieved and I will post some at a later date. 

Siccaridge 600 Bioblitz

Representing GlosARG and accompanied by two colleagues we helped Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in their attempt to find and identify 600 different species of wildlife at Siccaridge Wood Nature Reserve.
The event was run over 30hrs, where more than 700 species were found and identified. This was a massive achievement by all who gave up their weekend for the wildlife and it just shows that Nature Reserves work!
Sadly the weather was not right for reptiles, but GlosARG made up for it by finding a large privet hawk moth, palmate newt and swan mussel. 

Click HERE for more info on the event

And HERE for some photos of the event

Interested in reptiles and amphibians? Visit GlosARG 

Cinderford Area Action Plan (Northern United)

Northern United

The Forest of Dean District Council has recently won a high court battle to develop one of the most diverse and wildlife rich habitats in the Forest of Dean.
Also known as Northern Arc and Northern Quarter, work will see a spine road built, isolating and fragmenting habitats, which is home to rare, declining and protected wildlife.

Fore the media article click HERE 

For the last two years I have been one of the people who has fought, not to see the development of Cinderford stopped, but to see it stopped at this location. Northern United. 
I have been attending FODDC meetings where I have been helping highlight the wildlife at this site and the threat to it if work begins.

I was and I still am more than aware that the town of Cinderford needs dragging out of the Stone Age, but there are too many flaws with this location.

  1. Deep mines run directly beneath the area, which is to be developed and built on. This build includes numerous houses, a college and possibly a hotel.
  2. Numerous vulnerable, declining and protected wildlife are found all over this location.
  3. How is it actually going to help the town of Cinderford as it is more than a mile away from the town centre.
  4. How will our drainage, roads and other amenities cope with this massive increase in people and vehicles?
  5. After construction, will there be equivalent (sustainable) employment created for the extra residents and will it help with the number of unemployed we have at present?
  6. What work will be available?
  7. Is this where it is to end, or will we see further development?
Like many other people, I have lived in the Forest of Dean my whole life and over the years and have learnt to appreciate and respect what an amazing place it is.
We need to protect our green spaces and our wildlife for future generations. More importantly, we need to show and teach our future generations that what we have is worth fighting for.
Yeah I know what some of you are thinking, "without employment, what future is there for them?"
This is where I will say again; I know we need more jobs, but this chosen area is the worst imaginable, with regard to biodiversity and wildlife.

My next fight, if/when work begins will be to try and save as many vulnerable wildlife species as I can. Any mitigation will be planned and implemented legally.
I'm not a paper shuffler and I have already been in contact with organisations and FODDC in case this day comes.
This is not in support, just "to save the wildlife."

Wild Boar

Wild Boar Piglet

A cull of wild boar is on the cards, likely to start in September. The "BIG" question as always is how many boar are out there and how many need to be culled, if any?
The biggest outcry for a cull always comes from members of the public that do not like seeing our road side verges dug up in the winter and I find this vile and sickening that people will call for an animal to be killed for exposing dirt, which is what our earth is made of!
Feelings from true forest people of the Forest of Dean that actually venture into the forest regularly is that sightings are very low. You only have to look online and you will notice that there is a massive drop in piglet photographs this year, compared to previous years. People just aren't seeing them!
This is worrying as the Forestry Commission has estimated their numbers at around 600 and I fear that if a cull is implemented, it could once again prove disastrous for this species.
I will not speculate as to why the numbers are low, but I have heard from a few sources that many boar are being baited onto private land where they are legally shot. Baiting them onto the land for this purpose could be seen as illegal though.

As we have new growth in the forest and the boar are finding their natural food, our road verges have recovered, along with the vegetation in the forest and many people are saying that it is the greenest they have seen the forest for years!
Could it be true? Could it be that the boar rooting has irrigated and regenerated the soil, allowing new growth to flourish?
We all know that by digging our gardens it actually helps our plants and vegetables grow, so why not in the forest?

Now for a bit of sarcasm.....
I am "very" disappointed by the lack of commitment by the dirt haters. So our road verges are once again lush and green and the dedicated, committed individuals that scream for the boar's blood every winter have once again gone silent.
To these people: If you are a true campaigner and if you want results, this is not the way to go about it. You must be strong, put your ass on the line and be there every single bloody day of the year. To only fight when things seem to be in your favour, only to sulk away when they are not, is a defeatist attitude.
I will look forward to seeing your dedication, your photographs and your dirt hate letters in the local media soon, to show how the boar has affected our road verges.

Along with a colleague Scott Passmore I featured in a media article recently, representing my other wildlife conservation group UKWBT
It was a double feature, with the forest insight from the Forestry Commission...

Then it was our turn

I must stress that Scott and I do not walk the forest with packs of condoms for the boar. Contraceptives are fed to the boar using specialist feeding stations and we feel that as prevention is always better than the cure, this is the way forward in helping control our boar populations, "if they require control."

Not Such a Common Sight

I will leave you with some images that I have taken since my hard drive gave up the ghost and thank you for taking the time to read.

Sitting Tight

Forest Sunset

Eggs Hatching

36 Hours Old

Had a Busy Day

Stretching Tiny Wings

Exploring the New World

The following are not great photos as I had to crop them, but it was fascinating to watch. Not good for the fish of course!

Gull Dives Under

Comes Up With a Large Fish

Starts to Swallow it

Nearly Down

All Gone!