Tuesday, 11 October 2011

AUTUMNWATCH - The Verdict

As ever, as followers of Autumnwatch and Springwatch will know, last week's airing was the usual rich tapestry of information, unusual wildlife encounters, and fun.  The addition of Michaela Strachan was nice to see, who added a touch of innocence (but thankfully not childish enthusiasm) to the programme.

We eagerly awaited the wild boar piece, and after having seen it were left with the mixed feelings of relief, but also of continued frustration.

The relief was mainly thanks to the BBC not letting the Forestry Commission turn the piece into their usual public relations exercise, nor letting the Forestry Commission recite all of their usual fearful statements such as them trying to protect us all from exploding populations, dog attacks, human attacks, road accidents and perceived "damage" to grass.  The Forestry Commission should be thankful for this too, because the nation would have soon realised that their culling is pre-emptive of adverse contact, and that no evidence of any unprovoked attacks on people or dogs as ever been proven.

But despite the programme claiming the wild boar are highly controversial, they did not say much about why, just leaving the viewer dangling with a lack of information, especially balanced information (ie about how many dogs are attacking boar and public perception of grass "damage").  Sure, we were delighted to hear Chris Packham claim the ecological advantages, Martin to be against killing piglets, and to question if we as a nation have become zoophobic (obviously based on George Monbiot's blog in the Guardian - see an earlier blog on here), but this is where the programme placed it's limits.

In the interview between Michaela and Ian Harvey, the FC's head ranger in the Forest of Dean, we heard him claim that management of the boar is to keep garden's safe!  Now we know too that he will feel agrieved that this is the main reason put forwards for management!  The only other thing of note he said was that there was no attempt to exterminate the wild boar.  [But of course not - the FC have contracts to fulfil with boar meat - and this is where differing interpretations of "management" may lay, not one of people versus boar, nor one of ecology versus timber, but of a sustainable "harvest".  If it was for our sake or the forest, the FC would be communicating with us regularly and working with us on a solution.  But they do not. Why?]

But Ian was wrong to claim this is the first attempt at a census.  The FC undertook one in 2009 using thermal imaging cameras.  They didn't find enough boar to fit their own belief of a high population, so disregarded the result.  In fact, the result proved that boar numbers were low!

Similarly, the contrary piece with Alastair Fraser and Michaela had a very flimsy response of boar numbers simply being lower than in the past.  But it was a true and useful statement that no-one knows the population of boar, including the FC despite their own protestations (until very recently).

Editing of both sides of the debate was ruthless and seemed to avoid almost any of the ongoing contentions here, for which we for sure are perplexed by.

In the filming of the boar at night we were watching three tame boar (we recognised those boar) munching on what could be acorns.  But it could have been baited maize too?  Notice that the daylight film of the boar had them mooching up the soil, not eating acorns! 

video
Three boars filmed at a wallow by FOTB in readyness for Autumnwatch arriving.  Recognise them?  Note the pale faced one.  Not striclty nocturnal are they?  What are they eating here - well it's not acorns - it's peanuts.  Compare this to the Autumnwatch night census scene.

Friends of the Boar were eventually asked to find for the film crew truly wild boar displaying natural behaviour.  A strange request considering a family or two of tame ones are doing the circuit at the moment!  But we rose to the challenge but it proved as usual, impossible given the low numbers of boar left.  So why was the BBC ok to film tame boar with the FC - and at night - when these boar could have been filmed during daylight?  This led to the suggestion on piece the boar are mainly nocturnal.  Not so.  It also suggested the boar are no longer tame (like they were when first escaped), even though they were filming tame boar at very close quarters. All very contradictory as usual when we hear the FC talking about boar.

Of course, it all could have been edited to detract poachers.  If so, and we agree this should have been a forethought, it failed.  It failed because it still led to the belief that there are an unknown, possibly high, number of boar here.  The fact that boar numbers are "possibly" low was not allowed, even though this is our major assertion.

All in all, we were glad to be mentioned by Autumnwatch, and we are thrilled to see so much response in the follow-up forum.  Hopefully, through more programmes such as Autumnwatch, the public will eventually become better educated with the debate, and with this, may be allowed to progress to the details.  This is the same with all the other controversial re-introductions of our long-disappeared species such as wolves, beavers and sea-eagles, for example.

Here is the Autumnwatch blog / forum for you to give your opinion on the Big Boar Debate (despite the debate never having been discussed on air):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/natureuk/2011/10/the-big-debate-wild-boars-in-t.shtml

Click here to watch the programme - the wild boar piece starts at 26.20 minutes in...and lasts for 7 minutes.

DJS

3 comments:

  1. My girlfriend and I have both attempted to sign the e-petition but the counter for the number of signatures has not increased on signature (including ours it should be at 503 as of 14/01/12)

    We both fully support the petition and feel that the mindless slaughter by the F.C is ludicrous, these animals are a huge asset to the forest of dean.

    Keep up the good work

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  2. Many thanks Phil, hopefully you saw the email from HM Government asking you to verify your petition signature. Once you click on the link they send you your vote will be added. Please spread the word about the plight of the boar, they still need a lot more friends.

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  3. Exactly these sickos do just that .they are cowards .hiding behind dogs with a gun .i never such stupid inbreds in my life .i send these sick videos to the head of the state .in each state .if you say to them you dont like it wich i done every time .am no scared .your a vegetarian .one who has never had a passport in his life says the uk is 98% vegetarians .idiot i am a vet and troy andeluth and his mates .say letting dogs rip it apart .then they stan in heart is the way americans want it and most humane they are telling a vet shows how disrespectful they are .you need to watch these videos .but what i have found baffling .is men in pakistan put boar or hog in a circle it cant get out they send lurchers in but they get badly injured .i thought the pig was sacred and they are not aloud to harm animals .biggest lot of crap put dog ahog or wilde boar in put shiktar you will be shocked .these are not men they are big mouthed ones .if they hurt a animal and am there .i would beat them and shoot them .its sad that a great place like america is barbaric just like the ones in pakistan most or alot are ex marines .you would think they would set a example .these guys were wounded in the war and can run faster than hussain bolt .having said that it might be brain damage , thats why they kill boar or hog , bullshit i was in the SAS .and even am sickened by this i thought animal cruelty was ilegal if they are going to kill a boar or hog .shoot them in the head thats a quick death .you must watch these videos ,i would love to see them here .but there are sickos in the uk .they will be as bad as the muslims and americans .its a fact

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