The Forest of Dean is most famous for its ancient woodlands. It has the largest amount of oak trees in the United Kingdom. Previously the forest was only reserved for royal hunting, and that is how it gained its name as the Royal Forest of Dean.
The Forest of Dean used to have an incredible mining industry, one of the largest in Britain. It still has ancient rights that preserve miners to dwell anywhere in the forest, as long as they are over 21 and have spent a year and a day down a mine.
With the abundance of natural beauty that the Forest of Dean beholds it has many tourist attractions to entice new visitors to the area. Symonds Yat is a small, scenic village located at the bottom of the valley, and its rich with wildlife. A canoe can be hired to meander along the river Wye, with possibilities of spotting a rare peregrine falcon. The award winning sculpture trail is the largest in South Wales and England, a walking magazine rated it, ‘one of the best walks in the area’. Puzzle Wood is located near Coleford and offers the public a tranquil walk through its woodland, which has played host to many film and TV producers. Scenes have been shot there from Harry Potter, The deathly hallows. StarWars, The Force Awakens and BBC’s Merlin to name a few.
Nature booms and is proliferant in the Forest of Dean. Bluebells and daffodils dapple the woodlands floor with purple and yellow. It’s majestical, mythical, ancient woodland has historical intrigue and walking through it can be likened to stepping into a more spiritual and basic time period. But, behind this façade of tourism attractions, its natural exterior and exquisite views The Forest of Dean has a more sinister and ever growing internal problem. Lurking in the forest there are beasts, so if you go down to the woods today, be sure to take an AK47 and plenty of bullets.
‘War on Boar’, cries the local media. Its plastered on every news board, outside supermarkets and convenience shops in The Forest of Dean. The boar have tormented the public, and have had them fearing for their safety, so lets consider why?
After investigating some of the history surrounding this problem, I unearthed some terrifying newspaper stories. ‘Hozilla’, one particular boar was named by local newspapers. Hogzilla is a giant, genetic freak that will crush you with one hoof. He’s the size of a small bear and will tear you apart with one tusk. Hogzilla is a North American boar that does not dwell in our country, but somehow found itself being googled, copied, pasted and put on the front cover of local newspapers. Fear and pandemonium spread through the ‘foresters’, they are unsure of when this ‘war’ will be over.
The ‘war’ is a battle. It’s a battle between hog and man. Newspapers reveal that these boars have women and children trapped inside their cars out of sheer unprovoked terror. Picture the scene; a boar lingers outside their car holding them captive. He circles their car filing his tusks ready for an attack. His victims sit motionless as the boar’s red and evil eyes reflect the violent mood he is in.
|Picture the scene - women and children trapped in their cars out of sheer unprovoked terror.|
This is a familiar story between locals; they cannot fathom why these boars have such hatred and resort to merciless tactics. This incident leads us to another terrible act committed by a boar, on a poor and unsuspecting couple and their dog. They were enjoying a walk through the forest, sunlight beamed down on them through the trees and out of nowhere a boar ‘charged at 30mph’, proceeded to ‘jump a 6ft high fence’ and then finally ‘savaged’ their beloved pet. Apparently the boar would not listen to reason and had to be ‘beaten with a branch’ to fend it off. The wild boar eventually admitted defeat and the couple escaped. The wild boars are not only monstrous in size but can now perform extraordinary feats of agility, beyond their capabilities.
It has also been reported that wild boar have been known to sneak out of the undergrowth, and venture into open spaces. According to newspapers they ‘totally ruin picnics’. Innocent sandwich eaters are resorted to abandoning their lunch and are forced to ‘scramble up trees’. Boars mockingly taunt them while scoffing the remainders of carefully cut salmon and cream cheese sandwiches. Eventually the boar will wander off in search of other happy, unsuspecting picnic goers.
Many locals have also complained of being ‘prisoners in their own homes’, these headlines suggest that these people fear leaving their houses in case a boar might appear, and then prevent them from re-entering. The boar could whip past them, charge through the door, lock it and then adapt an animal farm type strategy and start living in their homes. They could start wearing their clothes, smoke pipes in the living room and eat all of their carefully labelled preserves.
‘Unprovoked and frenzied attacks’ another local newspaper claims, as they try to describe the boars behaviour. A frenzied attack conjures up images of a wildly excited beast, hyperactively, fraught and feverish lunging towards an innocent person, crazed in a fast and furious attack. They are mad and leap from one direction to another before choosing to strike.
So, a mass cull is necessary, according to the local Council. It will provide a solution for these frenzied attacks. A cull will also provide a resolution for landowners and council officials that claim that the boar are a ‘nuisance’ and create ‘damage’.
In another news story it was reported that one boar in particular had decided to ‘raid’ a local town in The Forest of Dean. The boar had ‘ran amok in the town centre’. In actual fact the boar had churned up a small piece of grass outside a chip shop, but ‘ran amok’ sounds more dramatic. He danced in the street, he sprayed his name in graffiti all over the walls, raided veg shops for sustenance and partied hard before returning to his dark and cold domain.
Their ‘diggings’ are also well documented. ‘Diggings’, are a name given to the boar’s natural occupation by the media. They don’t use little spades attached to their backs, but instead snuffle up the ground with their snouts. The increase of roadside carnage has proved the council’s suspicions that the boar ‘numbers are out of control’. The diggings are obviously not due to the Forestry Commissions hunters driving them out of the forest, which is their natural habitat and into other areas. It is due to them ‘breeding like rats’.
The newspapers then tell foresters that ‘soon there will be nothing left’. ‘Football pitches, cricket pitches, parks and picnic sites will all be destroyed’, locals will have to resort to more primitive or singular hobbies inside. The boars have become relentless in their quest for total boar domination. Some locals have now made it their hobby to document diggings and report them hastily to the local council, I’m sure that this new hobby can be a fun activity for all who participate, just be careful if the diggings are fresh.
Many boar conspiracy theorists believe that the boar want to eradicate all other animals from the forest, destroying habitats in their quake. The council back up these theories with information concerning the possible extinction of butterflies cause by boar. They also confirm suspicions that the boars are eating all the frogs, snakes and lizards in the area. Could it be that all reptilian life will soon be extinct in The Forest of Dean?
One man has taken the initiative against this boar on terror. Interviewed by the Daily Mail and armed with his '.308 Blazer Hunting Rifle’, he takes to the forest prepared. He admits that when approached by a boar he ‘thrusts himself in a jutting motion’ and proceeds to ‘slice open its upper thigh’.
Locals are advised to be extremely cautious of boar in the forest, but in reflection of this mans interview I would be inclined to be more mindful of the man jutting around the forest with a high powered gun.
The boar are primarily more active at night, they are nocturnal creatures because their eyesight is poor. They have excellent hearing and are shy to approach. They can be instinctively protective of their young and have been known to be protective of their piglets when threatened, but usually retreat to safety.
The media, Council and Forestry Commission have successfully made most of the community in The Forest of Dean scared and vengeful. The public’s vengeance makes it easier for the Forestry Commission to carry out their ambitions.
The Commission want to cull a certain amount of boar each year so they and sell the meat and make huge amounts of profit. Visit www.friendsoftheboar.org to see photographs taken by other members of the public that have a different view of boar. They capture the essence of the boar in wonderful pictures surrounded by nature, their own habitat.
by Harriet Stenner, University of South Wales