Monday, 12 September 2011

Do Not Feed The Boar

Since the last posting, the black sow and her 6 piglets has been admired by hundreds of passers by.  She stayed for 4 days and has now moved on.  We didn't want to say exactly where she was because of fears of either poaching or opportunist culling.  She is so tame and friendly that she is an easy target.  The event was amazing because boar sightings are now very rare indeed in the Dean - she has certainly made up for this for us.

Her appearance in the forest close to Speech House had the public talking and questioning.  She brought into the light many of the issues surrounding the wild boar and its management that Friends of the Boar are trying to promote.

Firstly, wild boar are not dangerous and are a joy to behold. A large native wild mammal that we as a species have grown up with, unlike other Forest of Dean favourites such as fallow deer, mandarin duck, rabbit, brown hare, little owl and grey squirrel.

Secondly, we noted that several well-wishers were feeding her.  Please do not feed the boar!  We are their friends yes, but feeding will ultimately be their demise.  Wild Boar can very quickly become habituated to people.  This is nice we agree, BUT, there are poachers as well as rangers who will kill her and her piglets if at all possible. 

The FC are very afraid of any boar becoming aggressive towards people, which may arise due to boar "expecting" food.  At the moment, the FC will pre-empt this by an immediate bullet despite this aggression never having occured  We believe this is wrong of course and are trying to get a policy change on this - but it will only be possible if no feeding by the public or the FC is enforced.

Articificial feeding of boar can give them the sufficient nutrition to bring them into season more than once a year.  This also brings their existence here into question due to fears of population explosion (mostly unfounded we claim when well managed).

True wild boar living a wild existence only have one litter per year, of up to 6 piglets.  This has been shown to be the case right across Europe. Yet a minority of the boar here are potentially hybridised with domestic pigs.  DNA studies are not conclusive, but if so these few boar, and their offspring, may breed more than once a year - all due to selective tampering with nature as is usually the case with meat bred for profit.  It is our experience that the wild boar in the Dean do not have excessive numbers of piglets per brood (usually 4-6), but it is not certain just how often they give birth due to uncertainties surrounding piglet deaths, population density or nutrition.

Wild Boar as a pure strain have a gestation period of 4 months, and after birth will stay with their piglets for a further 3-4 months.  There just isn't enough time for 2 litters a year unless her piglets are shot or die, when in that case the sow will come back into season.

We don't believe feeding by people is to blame for any over-population - yet, after all, the Forestry Commission and Defra have been feeding the boar intensively over the last few years as part of a contraceptive research programme (looking to lace contraceptives into baited maize at special feeder sites), and also at baited high seats where rangers shoot any boar unfortunate enough to be hungry and lured into a kiling zone.

Thankfully, we are told by the FC, that feeding has stopped.  But the FC need to understand that the population explosion they quoted in the press throughout 2010 into early 2011 could well be (if it was true) as a result of overculling (with the usual population rebound to follow) and their own baiting stations, some of which also included deer carcasses.

We would love this sow and her piglets to live long and become a tourist attraction.  She is very unusual for being so approachable, which may be due to her orphan status (her mother shot) whereby she was not given the experience from her parents about humans, or roads for that matter. She is also a very young mother, with her first piglets when she must have been about 6 months old.  This again may be due to high nutrition availability, but also if population numbers here in the Dean are very low some process perhaps involving pheromones is stimulating early breeding in young sows.  A well managed population should eliminate this effect.

In some ways her friendliness could be her saving grace, as poachers and FC culls will not shoot close to human dwellings or at tourist spots.

She is very distinctive, and if you see her, could you please get in touch with us and let us know where she is.  We want to protect her not just from the guns but also from the public who may be feeding her.



  1. If I see her who do I let know, and how?

  2. Dear eff, just send us an email via the "About Us" link. It is davidjslater "at"
    Good luck and hope you find her.