Taken by Lewis Thomson in the Forest
Wild Boar in the Dean
By Rob Ward
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.)
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.
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.
Photo: Lewis Thomson
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.
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?
Remember: The Wild Boar is a large animal which has self sharpening tusks and should be treated with respect.
It is not a sin to love wildlife, we need it to survive.
Did you know...
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
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