The big debate: Wild boars in the Forest of Dean
Culling of any animal is an emotive issue and wild boar are no exception.
Historically the Forest of Dean was a royal hunting ground. Wild boar were so popular at medieval banquets that they were hunted to extinction by the 13th century. Over the last few decades, however, the boar have reappeared in the forest by escaping from farms and illegal dumping. Their comeback, though welcomed by many, causing some controversy.
So what are the issues?
Many people love catching a glimpse of the boar but some, especially dog-walkers, are worried that they may be aggressive.
One of the biggest concerns is that they are prolific breeders. One sow can have up to 100 piglets in her lifetime. The forest provides a perfect habitat for the boar and they have thrived. As the population grew there was a public consultation and the Forestry Commission who are responsible for managing the forest introduced a cull.
The Forestry Commission has the difficult task of managing the needs of the boar with the needs of the users of the forest. The majority of people agree that a cull is necessary because there are no longer any natural predators but how do you know how many animals to kill when no-one is sure how big the population is? The Forestry Commission has just started a census to find out.
Not everyone believes the boar are being managed effectively. Local group The Friends of the Boar believe that boar are being culled at too high a level.
What do you think? Do you agree with the cull? Should the boar be let be? But if so what about the many, many people who enjoy the forest each year? Please post a comment below.
Watch Michaela's film on the Forest of Dean's wild boar from Autumnwatch.