Thursday, 22 September 2011

My First of Many Encounters

It was a normal day in March 2004 when I was first alerted to the fact that wild boar had been released into the wild in the Forest of Dean.
Even though it was late in the evening and the light was fading fast, I grabbed my gear and with a friend I made my way to the village of Staunton, where they supposedly were. I must admit, I had my doubts and I didn't have a clue where to start searching, but there was no way I was going to just sit back and ignore the tip off!
We had been walking for approx 15 minuets when we approached a bend in the Forestry Commission track and it was at this moment that I heard a grunt; my first wild boar in the Forest of Dean.
Now filled with adrenaline and not knowing what we were going to see, we slowly crept around the bend. Around 20 metres away standing in the track was a young boar, probably around 8 months old and jet black. He was just standing there, staring into the forest.
I raised my camera very slowly, as if my life depended on it and photographed him just before he walked away into the forest.
This was just too much; the excitement of finding them within 15 minuets was fantastic, but "this glimpse" just fueled us to track them for a better look.
Neither myself, nor Paul had any experience with this animal and we didn't have a clue if they would become aggressive if approached, but this opportunity was not to be missed!
As we crept slowly up the track we were 100% focused on the area where we had seen the young boar disappear into the forest and we were both totally oblivious to the fact that a large sow and 6-8 hoglets were standing in the forest just to our right; watching us!
Both Paul and I have spent many years tracking animals in the Forest of Dean and we are just as alert to each other, as we are with our surroundings.
I don't know who saw her first as neither of us said a word as we stood there, no more than 10 metres away, staring at a large mammal, which has been absent from our forests for more than 700 years!
The light was almost gone as we stood there staring at each other when she gave a small grunt. Her hoglets took off with her not far behind and the encounter was over.

The young boar from my first encounter. The quality of this photograph might be poor, but along with the whole encounter, it will stay with me forever!

Education must be the key for humans and the wild boars to co-exist in a changed world. This site will give facts and first hand accounts, which will put to bed all the scare stories surrounding this secretive animal.

My Final Thought......
I have alrady touched on education as being the key to this animals survival and for a healthy balance between humans and the boars.
One thing that has to be Top Priority is for certain members of the general public to STOP FEEDING the boars. To take a bag of apples to a car park and hand feed this animal might seem like it is the highlight of your day, or even your year. When in reality, it should be the worst!

1. You are enticing a wild animal to approach humans and not everyone will have a free hand out to please them.
2. They will associate humans as a food source and this will be passed on to their young.
3. Think of the wider public. Not all want a close encounter with this animal.
4. YOU are raising the stakes and directly contributing to the possibility of a dog, boar incident!
5. And finally. Even though they may seem tame and friendly, they are still wild animals and they have a very nasty bite. If you are bitten, will you condemn them through your own stupidity?

Neither I, nor Friends of the Boar condone the feeding of this animal.

Rob Ward

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