Sunday, 18 September 2011

Boar Digging or Boar Damage?

Wild boar deliver a much needed ecological niche.  They are nature's gardeners and wild flower seed dispersers (seeds lodge in their fur).  The flowers attract insects which in turn attract birds.  The birds attract their predators and so on.  Bare soil also attracts insects and reduces unwanted vegetation such as bracken. 

The soil is the foundation of all life.

The boar are one of the few animals to uncompact the sterile earth, much of which exists along our heavily abused woodland rides from logging operations and timber stacking.  Moles are another.  Worms another.  Any call to kill or limit the boar for their "damage" should also be a call to kill or limit moles and worms too.

Our road verges are almost flowerless, a haven for human litter and tyre ruts.  Now they are being rotivated, and thanks to the boars the flowers are once again coming back into view throughout Spring and Summer.  We should celebrate these visual signs of a healthy ecosystem.

Orchids growing through recent wild boar diggings. (Click to enlarge).

Yet boar digging at roadsides and amenity grassland is a contentious issue here, and is now the primary propaganda used by the anti-boar sector.  Roadsides seem to be the only bit of forest some residents see as they travel in their polluting cars around the roads.  Gone have the tales of boar running at people, or dogs being savaged for no reason (these stories have been debunked).  It is now the road and amenity diggings that are being used to vilify the boars.  The way the media ask the questions about perception of boar diggings exposes the agenda to sensationalise and place fear and anger in the minds of the unwary.

But consider this.  Is not a road already "damage" to the environment?   Even the Forest of Dean itself is not natural but managed, being continuously felled, rotivated and replanted - often with non-native tree species?  Picnic sites are "damage" to the natural environment, as are cars, burger vans and of course litter.  If the people, upset at boar digging the roadsides, could take a walk along some of the forest tracks here, they would see a much greater offense of those verges....

Many track verges throughout the Forest of Dean have been "damaged" by the Forestry Commission (click to enlarge images).

 Is the planting of non-native trees "damage", or the scars, tree litter and ruts left behind after felling also "damage"? (click to enlarge images).

What we are looking at when we see boar digging is an ancient and natural process.  That some people like a manicured edge to nature, are offended by bare earth or grassy bumps  is a modern condition, an illness almost, of zoophobia or fear of animals and nature. Read this week's Guardian (click here) on this subject and wild boar.  Thanks to George Monbiot for following us up on the call for a closed season and more scientific management of the boar.

Stories of people being trapped in cars or their houses because a boar is close by is more proof of our loss of instinct and giving our minds over to those who write the words in a newspaper.

People who complain about boar digging roadside verges should take a look at the greater "damage" done by the Forestry Commission in their pursuit of profit and livelihood. Is the boar not entitled to its livelihood too? (Click to enlarge image).

Human-centric thinking puts wildlife and nature second.  People who complain about road verges being dug up and call it "damage", should also complain about exisitng roads, houses and tourist attractions - should they not?  Maybe we should tarmac over everything and get rid of all nature so those who fear animals or untidyness can rest easy?


  1. Hi, we live in Brierley, FoD, and see the boar on average once a week while walking dogs around the woods.
    We also had the pleasure of an overnight visit last night, where they decided to cultivate the grass at the front of our house, I cannot see the big problem, and wish others would leave them in peace, rather than demand they are culled!!

  2. Thanks for your comment Scott, and please keep in touch. If you could send an email I will add you to the list to receive any updates, and you can keep us informed of anything happening around Brierley too.

  3. Hi thanks for this Blog. I love the boar (and the mucky sheep)in the forest; having moved from London I appreciate having wild creatures living alongside people. this is what makes this area unique and we need to use the boar and roaming sheep as an opportunity not as a threat. It is part of local peoples heritage and culture and more could be done to celebrate the boar. It would be good to have a permanent boar sculpture at Taurus crafts. any chance of organising a fund via this blog?

  4. Thanks Eve, we think the boar is one of the major reasons that make the Forest of Dean so special, because nowhere else in the UK have you such a good chance of seeing one. And seeing one is a real thrill. They are likely to go the way of other populations if the hunting pressure on them continues unabated - they will turn nocturnal and eventually become exterminated. We don't have funding yet, but a sculpture would certainly be nice - one without the mythology of big tusks and ready to charge pose we normally see! Something more realistic. There are some little sculptures in the Beechenhurst playground though!

  5. Taurus crafts make a huge Boar sculpture which they then burn on Bonfire night.

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  7. I think the boars aren't guilty for damaged grass in the yard or similar damages, that is just in their nature. If we had home insurance it would cover any damage that boar can make. I can suggest you this company that is offering home insurance in Swansea MA and does pretty good job in covering all kinds of damages.