BBC Countryfile aired a programme on 13th December 2015 that covered some of the issues of wild boar in the Forest of Dean. Friends of the Boar were consulted on the topic and David Slater agreed to try and help find some boar for them to film and to appear on the programme too.
|Tom and David Slater find teeth gashes of wild boar in conifer trees.|
We had 3 days to find some boar, and that proved to be quite tough. Surveying the entire Forest it had become very clear that boar numbers were now terrifically low, perhaps less than 70 left. Boar rootings were massively reduced compared to more recent years, as were all other signs. It reminded us of 2008-9 in terms of rootings, when the population was put at around 60-90 animals.
Dave had discovered an area that held about 3 boar, so we concentrated on that area when the pre-filming team arrived. Signs were good and wallows had been used, and the crew waited from 3pm until dark to hopefully see them. It wasn't to be.
|David leads Tom through ideal wild boar habitat.|
But we believed it was just bad luck, and on the day of filming when Tom Heap arrived, Dave took them back to the area. New signs were there, but again they left without a look at a boar. Finding boar can never be certain and the crew left saddened, as they were all looking really forward to catching sight of one - for personal reasons as much as professional.
|Tom and David discuss the wild boar during filming.|
He explained that the 360 boar killed this year were part of the ongoing compensatory process and cannot be a reflection of the total boar population. This wasn't aired.
Also, Dave suggested that 75% of the cull were humbug coated piglets. The Forestry Commission always attempt to dupe the public with cull numbers, preferring to give an impression that all boar killed are large adults as well as living all at the same time. No. Piglets are targeted ever more due to their ease of selling the meat to BBQs (the FC sells piglets direct to the public).
Dave predicted a glut of piglets early in the new year to the crew because numbers were now so low that increased shelter and nutrition left available for survivors meant that piglet mortality would be drastically reduced. This wasn't a topic they wished to film.
One other thaing that wasn't aired and purposefully ignored was the terrific amount of forest damage by tree felling vehicles. The Forest looks quite ugly right now. We are seeing the worst ground and tree damage by the Forestry Commission for years, and that is saying something!
|About to set up a trail camera - not enough wild boar left to find on demand these days!|