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Nature Features

You are in: Gloucestershire > Nature > Nature Features > Wild Boar in the Dean

Wild Boar, taken by Lewis Thomson in the Forest

Taken by Lewis Thomson in the Forest

Wild Boar in the Dean

As the Government unveils an action plan to help deal with Wild Boar in Gloucestershire, let me share with you the importance of understanding the animal for their, and our, own good.

Facts about Wild Boar

Scientific name: Sus scrofa.

Size and weight: Up to 200cm in length & 200kg.

Life span: 18 years.

Diet: Mainly vegetarian, but will take small mammals, birds and reptiles.

Territory: A Wild Boar's range can be anything up to 12square miles.†

Group: A herd of Boar is called a Sounder.

(UPDATED 22 May 2008:

The Forestry Commission has drawn up guidelines for the control of wild boar in its land.†Under the scheme, bait will be used to attract animals to areas where marksmen can get a clean shot.†The Forest of Dean Deputy Surveyor, Rob Guest, says management is needed because incidents involving the feral pigs in the Dean have been growing. Click on the links below for details.)

Quote mark

The thought of coming across a Wild Boar while out walking in the Forest of Dean can frighten and intimidate some people, this is because they do not understand the Boar and have listened and believed all the scare mongering regarding them.

The "armchair" critics have a lot to answer for when it comes down to persecuting our wildlife, they inadvertently cause the deaths of thousands of animals in Britain every year with their "what if this" and "what if that" statements.

If you are lucky enough to see a Wild Boar, remember, they are more scared of us than we are of them and if not threatened, they will be the ones to move away.

If you live on the edge of a wooded area and don't want them on your land, fence them out and try not to attract them with food waste and rubbish.

Trouble

If you know where they lie up during the day, don't approach them as you will disturb them and this is when they will stand their ground, especially if you have a dog or they have young.

The sow gives birth around February, so this is the time NOT to go looking for them, as you will only find trouble.

My nephew, Paul Skelton (34) and myself (38) are passionate wildlife photographers and we have both been within 20 feet of a young male, a large sow and her 6 piglets. The sow stood facing us, guarding her young (as any mother would), after about 30 seconds she grunted at her young and they ran away, with her closely behind.

The male, well he paid us no attention whatsoever and just walked off.

Wild Boar, taken by Lewis Thomson in the Forest

Photo: Lewis Thomson

Not monsters

Wild Boar are mainly nocturnal and it is rare to see them in the open during daylight hours, if you are worried about your dog coming into contact with a Boar, the best advise I can give is to keep them on a lead, try to keep to the forestry trails and do not venture into the woods as this is where you are more likely to come into contact with them.

If you are out walking your dog on a forestry trail and you come across them, just turn around and walk the other way.

They are not monsters and were native to Britain until they were eradicated through hunting during the 17th Century, it was NOT nature that chose to kill off the Wild Boar in Britain, but MAN and now he wants to do it again.

The Boar like rooting around for worms, roots and the famous "Truffles" hence the term Truffle Hunters. The rooting mixes the soil and helps with the regeneration of plants such as the Bluebell.††

Decision

Healthy Wild Boar have been living in the Forest of Dean for the last 4 years and I find the prospect of a total cull disturbing.

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have yet to make a decision on the future of the Boar in the Dean, but a decision is expected by Christmas 07. Lets hope it is the right one.

If it were a (NATIVE) bird that had been re-introduced back into our Eco-system, what would the critics say about that?
My personal opinion is for the Boar to be managed, NOT persecuted.†

Remember: The Wild Boar is a large animal which has self sharpening tusks and should be treated with respect.

Unquote mark

It is not a sin to love wildlife, we need it to survive.

Did you know...

  • Wild Boar can get sun burnt, so they wallow in mud, this also helps get rid of parasites such as ticks.
  • In the daytime, they will find something to sleep under, e.g. fern or long grass.
  • Old males only associate with a group in the Autumn breeding season and after breeding will then retreat and live on his own.
  • The male Boar will not mate until he is 4 years old!
  • There is a gestation period of 16 weeks and the sow can produce anything up to 14 piglets.

This article has been written and provided by Rob Ward and is an external contribution. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the BBC.

last updated: 22/05/2008 at 08:45
created: 22/11/2007

Have Your Say

Do you agree with Rob? ...or are you worried about Wild Boar?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Barry Cinderey-Smith
Wild boar great to see them back I live in the centre of the forest have had twenty boar on my lawn (now repaired and fenced) no problem went out they ran off, which is more than the stags do?. Spooked a large boar the other day with the dog it just got up looked for a momment than ran off.The forest should have wild animals in not wild bike riders.

Peter Hubbell
We have the same stupidity here in Arizona with the Peccary. Great peice of convergent evolution. Like your wild boar they have poor eyesight.Also mainly nocturnal. So first rule I have is talk to them. A preditor and we have both coyotes and mountain lions will be silent. After a while our local family group of peccaries get tp know your voice and that you are not a threat.Re introduced gray squirrel my sugestion is hunt and eat them. Won't get rid of them but will keep numbers down.

brian pendrey
my self and my wife have encoutered wild boar several times in the forest with our two dogs off the leads and the boar always run off in the oppiste direction some times they comecloser because they ate short sighted but has soon as they smell you they are gone even when they have young they show no malice i seen one about amonth ago it was huge about four foot high and 2ft wide but it just strolled off they showed the pic and interviewon points west so hopefully people may understand the creatures abit more and not listen to the scaremongering whats batted around by some people.

ed dutson
i agree with ROB half the comments are made by thick townies

Mike.
Get real Rob.As and when you scare those feral pigs in litter, they will attack you. What will you do?On the other side of the coin, they are just bacon on legs, and should be harvested along with those wild pigs on farms...

JOHN HODSON
ME AND MY GOOD FRIEND (MARK SEARLE)GO OFF AND LEAVE OUR FAMILIES A COUPLE OF TIMES A YEAR AND GO LOOKING FOR WILD BOAR (OTTERS,MINK,GOLDEN EAGLE ETC).IN MAY WE WENT TO THE FOREST OF DEAN LOOKING FOR THE BOAR. WE SPENT THE DAYS LOOKING FOR SIGNS AND THEN WE WENT OUT AT NIGHT WITH FLASH LIGHTS. AND 2AM IN THE MORNING WE BOTH HERD A LOUD CRUNCH WE BOTH TURNED OUR 1 MILLION POWERED LIGHTS ON AND ABOUT 20 FEET AWAY WAS A BIG MALE BOAR. I HAVE TO ADDMIT I WAS SUPPRISED ON THE SIZE OF HIM.HE STOOD THERE FOR A FEW MINUTES AND THEN TURNED AROUND AND WALKED AWAY INTO THE FOREST WHERE WE LET HIM BE. BECAUSE WE WERE ON A PATH WHICH WE STAYED ON !.THIS WAS AT A POPULAR ATTRACTION AT SYMONDS YAT .(SORRY ABOUT THE SPELLING).THE SECOND TIME WAS AT NEW FANCEY POINT WHERE WE CAME ACROSS A SOW WITH PIGGLETS AND WE WERE TO CLOSE BECAUSE SHE CHARGED US ,BUT STOPPED ABOUT 10FEET IN FRONT OF US THEN JUST DISAPEARED.AND WE TURNED ARONND AND WALK WAY.I THINK IT WILL BE WRONG TO WIPE OUT THE WILD BOAR IN THE FOREST OF DEAN AND THE REST OF BRITAIN.EVEN THOW ME AND MY FRIEND WENT LOKING AT THE WRONG TIME OF THE YEAR WHICH WE WONT DO AGAIN THEY STILL GAVE US PLENTY OF WARNINGS. WHAT IM TRYING TO SAY IS, THEY DONT ATTACK UNLESS THERE IS NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE.THANK YOU. JOHN HODSON

rose oliver
i am thoroughly disgusted with the persecution and ditruction of wildlife in britain im shortly to holiday in the forrest of dean eith my dog i have taken the precaution of being aware of protocol if we should inadvertently come accross a wild pig but totally respect thier right to exist and shall behave with caution and common sense this is all thats required the way things are anything more threatening than a sparrow will be wiped out by the nanny state other countries cope with all sorts of potentially lethal creatures the countryside and its wildlife is not a play area respect for its needs is essential

Dave Pitman
I have met the "wild boar" on many occassions whilst walking my dog, like yourself have had no bad experiences at all. The boar are definitely more scared of us than we should be of them. Unfortunately any incidents that do occur are where people do stupid things instead of just appreciating the animal for what it is. As for a cull I think it is disgusting, if the Forestry Commission had their way it would be like Defra and the foot and mouth all over again where media hype kicks in rather than adopting a more logical approach

The truth
Yet again the Forestry Commission try to confuse us with babble! Do you really think it will be only young animals that are in the firing line? This is merely to suppress public outcry at the total extinction of the now well established and safe population! The meat of these animals will then be sold for the Forestry Commissions gain! The FC are meant to look after our last remaining wooded areas, instead they are ruining them! The footpaths and tracks are a disgrace, not due to boar, but by the amateur management and carelessness by the FC. From what I have personally seen, FC workers are totally out of touch with the dean and couldnít care less about the wildlife that inhabits it. Most are "ex" poachers, although I guess you could say that they just poach legally now!!! Enough lies and farcical myths, its time the public stood up and protected whatís rightfully theirs, the GREAT British countryside and everything thatís in it!!!

Dave
I would love to see a wild boar! Will keep my fingers crossed that they get established in my area!

Joules
Wasps a perceived as being a far greater nuisance, yet most people would hesitate to wipe out the wasp population if they thought about it for a moment.

Sam
I studied Zoology and worked for 6 years in the tropical rain forest. Apart from one specific occasion, animals had never attacked us though we had so many interaction. Unlike humans, animals mainly attack only to eat or to defend themselves or their kids. I agree totally with Rob. One has to remember that wild boar roamed the forests of Uk right up to the 17th century. It will be great to have them (and also lynxes, bears and wolves) back.

Joules
I agree with Rob. It is fascinating to have Wild Boar so near.

fred
why kill them capture them and move them to another area or another country that would benefit from them breed them in a country that has less food

Daddy Boar
Who are these morons who want to kill us? Wild boar? Absolutely livid boar more like.

brook
when i lived in florida i seen and heard one of these they r scary

Mick the Chef
Wild Boar makes a fantastic roast, good bacon and not bad for a burger either. The meat is darker than our farmed pig.

Natalie
I do not think that the boar are a problem. I saw my first one today and, although I was quite scared to begin with, I have to say it was a very memorable encounter. I personally do not want to see the boar decrease in number again. Our area is a very special one and, despite being only 18, I find it a place of high interest.

Ground-nesting bird
what about me? One yomp & I'm a hog's breakfast

The Bear, Ruardean Woodside
Can these animals be domesticated like pot bellied pigs? If so I might see if I can grab one for my kids.

Chris Blenkinsopp
The wild boar have every right to live in the woods, and should be left to their own devices. We interfere too much, as human beings. Live and let live. They are wonderful, successful creatures and have every right to life

Roger Pain
Homers last post gives me an idea. We could have a "whacking day" style hunt like they do with the snakes in Springfield, USA. Every local could have a sharp stick and partake. The would would be alive with the sounds of whacking followed with the scent of spit roasts in the evening. That would really fill up our senses!

Homer Sceptical
Big MikeMaybe you'd better re-phrase the "whack it off" statement. U.S. readers might get the wrong idea... :-)

Big Mike, Brierly
If I saw a wild boar coming over my wall I'd whack it off, take it inside and give it a good roasting regardless of the beauracrats. Yum Yum.

Mick Alligator-Stirling
you poms don't half do some whingeing - like a bunch a shiela's! Too busy bickering to see you've got a cane toad, rabbit, grey squirrel, mink situation going on when you start mucking about with intro / reintroducing species. How did they become extinct in the first place? They breed so much faster than deer, I reckon they trash their (& everything else's) habitat if left to their own devices. What next, reintroduce wolves to keep the boar numbers down? Streuth!

Wild about boars
I'm pig sick of this debate. It is very boaring when idiots think they should eradicate these animals from the FOD. They should have their mouths swilled out and trotter off to the towns they come from, the horrible swines. If I old spot one of the moaners I shall have words to say about the tripe they have been posting.

J Wright
I think it is good to have the boar back in the Forest, after all they did exist here until wiped out 300 years ago.

Katherine Haines Soudley
I walk my dogs in Soudley woods twice a day and have come into close contact with the boar.It was a large male who was extremely docile and followed us on our walk about 2 metres behind hoping to be fed I think.My dogs were pretty excitable but even this didn't get a reaction -I think he just wanted some dog treats.We should respect the boar and be grateful we live in such a beautiful area rich in wildlife .It upsets me to think of the shooting in Ruardean.The kids were nowhere near at the time , so it wasn't posing a threat to anyone! Surely a tranquillizer dart and a release away from the school would of been more sense..or was this just too much trouble? :-(

Alice Joy
I think it's very unfair to kill harmless wild animal's such as wild boar.They are just like pigs,but have more bristles .It's a well known fact that pigs are very intelligent animals and wild boars are too!They don't hurt anyone as long as you keep away .So just don't slaughter!

R Ward
Thank you Guy, glad you liked my pics, it's always nice to hear positive comments.The only thing I want is for the boar to be managed, the problem is that certain Government agencies have an act now think later policy and this can be disastrous for any wildlife.Keep your eyes peeled for a feature on the Wyedean Rally, soon to appear on this site. I love wildlife, but I am also a great fan of tradition. Rob

Guy, Brierley
I'm no expert, but I thought the key to boar population growth laid with the sows - who can produce anything up to 14 piglets. I assumed they were polygamous like deer & some religious cultures. Taking the walking route from my kids' school to our house as the area that concerns us, which has gone from nil disturbance to quite substantial areas of churned up (by boar mooting) ground, within 4 years. So it does seem a likely progression that within another fewish years we could be tripping over wild boar on this journey. However, I do appreciate that such projections are difficult to make accurately. Perhaps the numbers will be controlled, & the idea of community hog roasts to do it sounds fun. Keep up the photograghy Rob - outstanding work!

R Ward
Guy, if you look at the bullet points at the bottom of my main article, you will see that number 4 explaines that the male boar will not mate until they are 4 years old and if you don't believe me, check out the D.E.F.R.A web-site on wild boar.The truth is that they breed in the Autumn and the male will then move on, taking no part in rearing the young.The female has a gestation period of just under 4 months and only breeds once a year.I have heard people say that wild boar keep breeding all year round, this is again ill informed people that believe everything they are told.My best advise is to research them for yourself and you will see that they will not be living in tree houses soon, not just yet anyway.

Big Mike,
Nicky Mild has the right idea but I don't favour apple sauce with this meat. My wife likes a good spit roast too. The idea of doing it in the woods just adds to the romance of the occasion.

Nicky Mild
Let them breed I say. Then we can kill 'em to eat. I look forward to May Day celebrations where we can all share a free spit roast in the woods. The future's bright, the future's porky with apple sauce!

Guy, Brierley
Residents of boar-affected areas are entitled to voice fears & misgivings without being associated with uneducated tabloid bigotry or hysteria. But perhaps the publication of an unbiased & factual guide to dealing with boar encounters would be helpful. Personally, I would love to see boar (when not with my kids), but they are very shy & elusive. I've smelled them countless times, heard them a few times, but not sighted yet. Us humans & the ecosystems are not used to them - it's quite fair to feel disturbed by this sudden appearance. It's quite a worry as to what we'd do if we encountered a group of boar in a stroppy/protective mood when we're walking home through the woods with the kids. Enthusiasm is an enlivening & refreshing thing, but if I started enthusing about the establishment of breeding colonies of native wolves & bears in other people's neighbourhoods, I imagine that would grate after a while.

Lewis Thomson
The gentleman from Brierleys comments only add to the clear need for local people to be better educated on these animals, and where he thinks myself and Rob live is a mystery!? As for being an expert, heís right, I am no expert, but I am giving MY opinion, as is everyone on this page.

Paul from Green Street
I wasn't sure who had dispatched of the Ruardean boar last week - was it police, army or forestry I wondered? I decided to have a pint in the Malt Shovel and enquire of the locals. Imagine my suprise when I received a right hiding and left abruptly under a flurry of fists, boots & sticks. All I'd said was "who killed the boar"

Grunter (boarhamwood)
These animals are a bit of a boar if you ask me. They have ugly faces and even the females need a shave but there's no need to kill 'em. I am quite an ugly beast myself but wouldn't take too kindly to a bullet in my brain. Peace and love is the message, even to the aesthetically challenged.

Big Mike
i see wild boar is on the menu at Swan in Brierly. Very suss if you ask me, hmmmmmmm

Dave Spencer
I farm free-range wild boar for meat here in Hampshire. Boar are smaller than large white or landrace pigs, and no more aggressive -200 kilo? -I wish! about 80 for a big boar is more like it. The fault here seems to be a) with the school staff for apparently allowing the animal to visit regularly before deciding they had a crisis b) The warden(s), who it seems have little experience with pigs. Boar, like sheep, simply do not 'stomp and charge' unless cornered and harassed. Both of these animals need persuasion and space when being driven out of confined spaces. I trust that the unfortunate beast was duly butchered and enjoyed?

Peter Cox
the wild boar should not have been shot. Surely it could have been driven away?We should learn to live with them.They are not monsters.

Guy from Brierley
I note that R Ward has little knowledge of the wild boar presence in the Ruardean vicinity. There are plenty, as the abundant mooting signs reveal. It's a clear indication of the lack of expertise of the self-proclaimed experts. Unfortunately the interests and safety of us local populace & our offspring is not high on the agenda of the 'expert' aadvocates of these feral swine living in our (not their) neighbourhood.Personally, I'm glad it's L Thomson who is gutted and not family & friends of any schoolkids. Lets hope this February passes without tragedy. I love nature & wildlife, but resent being told I should accept as ok this sudden and unsustainable build - up of potentially dangerous wild animals in our neighbourhood. 0 to 100 in 4 years isn't significant Rob? - I disagree. As they can reproduce exponentially and have no predators then how long til 'infestation'? I think we need to bear in this lot were fly-tipped here originally, in very poor condition by accounts.

Lewis Thomson
Wise words Rob! I was gutted to hear the news about the Ruardean primary school incident. I fear it will lead to an even more negative opinion of these fantastic animals and may be the final nail in the populations coffin. Its a shame this has happened, when you link male boar with primary school children you get a monster that must be destroyed. Of course the papers will always damn them, monster stories sell more papers than true ones! Lets hope the authorities have more sense and education on these animals than some of the articles authors.

R Ward
I am writing this comment in light of the recent boar that was shot at a Ruardean primary school.The boar in question was a male and at this time of year male boar live alone, so he would have most probably been the only boar in the vicinity.I am not questioning the actions of the Forestry Commission as it was a school, but it states that the boar had got inside a fenced area, which leads me to believe it may have felt trapped or cornered and this may have been the reason why he got aggressive.The wild boar is not a naturally aggressive animal even though they are large and have tusks, so this is why we must be very careful when we depict them, as people will delight in using any negative publicity, twist it and use it against the boar.We will most probably see a headline saying, "wild boar invades school" or "wild boar has school children on their menu".Lets hope not though hey!Rob

R Ward
Well put Mike, most of the wild boar in the Dean are half domesticated and given time, they will slowly revert back to being truly wild.If the boar were managed near trouble spots and if the correct precautions were taken, this process would be speeded up, as soon as the boar associate humans with trouble NOT food they will steer clear and again become shy and secretive.The 100 strong sounder(s) of boar in the Dean may sound impressive to some, but not to me.It has taken over 4 years for the boar to reach this level, this is not really an infestation of our woodland is it.Next time you walk into your garden, think to yourself, "this was once an area covered with trees, with animals walking around, including the wild boar".Haven't were done enough damage.Enjoy what we have left and help PRESERVE it, along with a long lost NATIVE species.It's not a sin to love wildlife, we need it to survive.Rob

Mike Edwards
As a Forest of Dean Tour Guide, it constantly amazes me how some folk in the area seem to regard anything unusual or different as a nuisance that must be despatched. Do they not realise that they are living in a superb part of the country, with an amazing mix of wildlife that reflects the diversity of the forest and surrounding areas. The boar may have escaped from domesticity, but they complement the forest by their presence, and bring a richness to it. Manage them by all means. But as for boar attacking deer and munching humans and the like... oh for heavens sake, what a load of old codswallop! If you had lived in a city and heard nothing but police sirens and had breathed fume-laden air for most of your life, I'm sure you would appreciate much better what a fantastic place the Forest of Dean is. The boar popluation are now an established part of it. As are the free-roaming sheep. As are the deer, the birdlife and the Foresters themselves. Celebrate it for heavens sake, don't destroy it!

David Kempster
i thought i saw a wild boar in my living room. turned out it was my mother in law round for tea. Easy mistake to make really seeing as she hasn't plucked her moustache for a couple of weeks. Merry Christmas all!

Andy
The boar should be managed, but not totally culled.There is, however, an obvious need for education regarding the boar. Comments such as Chloe's about the boars "killing the stags and deer" is not only innaccurate but also a good example of the scare-mongering that certain ill-informed people delight in.

Marion Martin
I totally agree with Rob, the boar should be left alone and managed, not wiped out. They are part of our national heritage and like many other countries in this world, we seem to want to kill off anything that has a perception of being harmful, even if that perception is wrong. Everyone wants to save the badgers, or foxes, or even the mink that were let loose by 'animal lovers' a few years ago, as they have been 'humanised', but because the boar always seems to receive a bad press -warranted or otherwise - we seem intent on killing it off. As a race we have wreaked terrible damage on the world's wildlife, so perhaps we could try the reverse this time!!

Lesley Sleet
I was sold an orphaned local feral piglet recently for £5. I keep him as a pet & the children at Woodside school have named him More Ham Head because his head has grown really quickly. They pet him & feed him scraps & he also enjoys pannage for acorns. We'll make a profit out of him when he's fattened up & sold for meat. Personally I prefer venison - at least deer present no danger to people.

Chloe
I live in the Forest of Dean and I live very close to the woods. I have seen up to 20 boar and they scrounge around in my garden. I think we need to do something about them as they will be dominating the forest soon, killing the stags and deer.

Rosamond Entwhistle
I find many of the comments posted on this subject entirely inappropriate- Our native wildlife such as wild boar & squirrels should not be 'spit roasted' as has been written- we should appreciate & embrace wildlife. We have farm animals to eat.

James Westall
The big dilemna with wild boar is whether to flash fry with rosemary & garlic or to slow cook. Having said that of course, you can't beat a fine spit roast. yummmm....

Morgan Write
I think the boar belong to the native inhabitants of their area. If one of the Ruardean Hill ones were were humanely despatched I'd gladly spit roast it with my butcher friend and freely distribute it at the Malt Shovel & to all the native customers on my old milk round. This could be the chance to unite the native community!

G. Matlock
While it's nice of these American punkettes to come & tell us love these wild swine I don't think she'd like it if her grandkid got munched by these animals. If they belonged here they'd always have been here. It's time for a shooting party followed by a good spit roast I'd say

BenW
While i agree with some of Rob's sentiments, we must remember that wild boar have not roamed wild in this country for a considerable time. Our ecosystems have changed considerably since then, and whilst their existence in the past may have been largely in harmony with their surroundings, their existence NOW may not be so harmonious. So we need to be wary, and perhaps make a decision on whether we protect what natural environment we have in the present, or what we had in centuries gone by. I agree that it is more than disappointing when any species is eradicated by man, but our introductions have usually caused more problems.

Paul Bennett
As a committed (& subsequently released arf-arf) adrenaline junkie I went looking for these hogs last February for a bit of excitement. Imagine my reaction when I found the trip entailed 3 days of getting cold, wet & looking at mud (mooting signs) & 2 cold & soggy nights. Next Valentines I'll take my partner to Cribbs Causeway instead. Wild boar??? - Mild Bore more like!!!

Pat Smith
Yet again they want to rid us of something we made and deprive us and our children the sight of nature .As a towny now living in the country its so good to see wild life as it should be (not behined bars) there is no reason why we can not live together all we have to do is think and act in a posertive way .they are needed as we need the rest of the remaining wild life . LET THEM BE .

Jaguar
Its good that people like rob and paul highlight whats going on in our forest all we seem to hear are the negative aspects.I think its wonderful that the boar are back,just like the otters. Oh and i have heard they are thinking of intoducing beaver here i wonder what the critics will have to say about them

Cud chewer
Well done Rob, it's about time someone stood up to the critics. This country is turning into a nanny state. You don't know me but I know about you and Paul and would just like to say well done and keep up the good work we need more like you two.

mrs green
I agree with Robin that if people keep to the paths with their dogs they should have nothing to fear. I also agree that they could me managed like the deer.

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