POLL: Should wild boar be culled in order to control the population?



Drew Pratten admits it can be a little unnerving to suddenly come upon a wild boar in the forest.

“They are very big. When they growl at you it’s primal. You get the sort of feeling deep in your stomach that you get when you hear a lion roar. But these animals don’t want to hurt anyone. If you slowly back away they are fine. We should all be living peacefully together.”

Pratten, a 49-year-old marketing consultant, is one of a band of dedicated animal rights activists in Gloucestershire pitting itself against marksmen and government officials in what is being dubbed the “Boar War”.

The Forestry Commission has set up gun towers from which marksmen cull the powerful pigs that roam the ancient woodland between the river Severn and the Welsh mountains.

Wild boar in the Forest of Dean: the Forestry Commission has set up gun towers Photograph: Alamy

A 30-strong group calling themselves the Forest of Dean Wild Boar Cull Saboteurs is determined to stop them. The “pixies”, as the activists term themselves, have been accused of tactics ranging from knocking over gun towers to smearing excrement over gate locks (they deny the second allegation).

A Gloucestershire police inspector said the activists were wasting taxpayers’ money while local politicians are calling for both sides of the boar dispute to come together to find a peaceful solution.

Pratten, 49, who acts a spokesperson for the saboteurs, met the Guardian at the Speech House, a 17th century former hunting lodge at the centre of the Forest of Dean.

Drew Pratten, of Forest of Dean Wild Boar Cull Saboteurs, in the Forest of Dean. Photograph: Sam Frost/the Guardian

He pointed out the signs of the creatures’ presence: the turned earth where they had foraged for insects and roots; the flattened bracken where they had slept.

“The boar should be seen as a massive asset to this place. It’s the one thing these days that the Forest of Dean is known for but at the moment they are being demonised.”

Pratten smiled when asked if he is a pixie and replied: “I have taken part in direct action.” Denying any member of his group had smeared excrement, he said: “It’s childish, it doesn’t help. If you want to disable a lock there are better ways of doing that.”

In previous years the Forestry Commission built wooden towers from which to shoot from. “The wooden towers were knocked over in the wind or by pixies. Some were dismantled,” Pratten said.

Damage caused by wild boar to the verges near Speech House in the Forest of Dean. Photograph: Sam Frost/the Guardian

This year the commission set up metal ones to reduce maintenance costs and vandalism. Critics say they look like the sort of structure that you might come across in a prison of war camp.

“You’d need an angle grinder to tackle one of those,” said Pratten. “And nobody’s got an extension lead that long.” But there are softer ways of disrupting the cull. “They put bait out, you take the bait you put it somewhere else. Simple. We’re saying don’t eat it over here, eat it over there.”

Boar became extinct in England 300 years ago. The original modern Dean population established after an escape from a wild boar farm in the 1990s and an illegal release in 2004.

Average litter sizes in the Dean are between six and 10 piglets, nearly twice that of their cousins on the continent. They have no natural predators – except man – and the recent mild winters have helped populations soar.

The Forest Commission, the government department that manages more than 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of land in the area, defines the boar as feral.

It says the most obvious sign of the boar is the damage caused to grass verges, parks, sports pitches and church-yards but it reports there have been incidents of people being chased by boar and dogs being killed.

The commission says there are also “wider social impacts” of boar, such as older and more vulnerable people being afraid to go out at dusk or at night for fear of meeting one of the animals.

In addition, it points out that the number of road traffic accidents involving boar overtook those involving deer in 2013.

A hoof print left by wild boar in mud near Cinderford in the Forest of Dean. Photograph: Sam Frost/the Guardian

The commission put the boar population in 2016-17 at 1,562, though some activists believe this figure is inflated. It has set a “target” population at 400. During the 2016-17 cull, 492 animals were killed – a number that also includes those killed in road accidents.

While some of the activists believe contraception could be a way of managing the population, the commission has authorised shooting.

Residents in the town of Cinderford on the fringe of the forest are split. Butcher Cameron Swaine sells boar sausages, burgers and steaks (though bought from private local landowners rather than the Forestry Commission, whose meat is sent out of Gloucestershire). “I understand people get upset when their garden is ruined by boar but for me they are part of the forest,” he said.

Marion Jayne, landlady of the Fern Ticket pub, said she felt sorry for the “poor little piggies”. “When I drive home late at night you see foxes, rabbits, deer and boar. If people don’t like them they shouldn’t live in the forest.” Bar worker Corrie Thomas, 22, had a close encounter with a boar in his car recently: “It clipped me – or I clipped it. Luckily it was a small one.”

Dog lover Jeff , who did not want to give his surname, said the animals made life in the forest more difficult: “You have to be very careful where you walk, they can be dangerous. I have to keep the dogs on a lead.”

Councillor Tim Gwilliam, the leader of the Forest of Dean council, said he believed the boar – if properly managed – could boost the local economy by attracting more visitors. He called on central government to take a grip of the situation. “I bet if they were trotting around Parliament Square they’d be sorted,” he said.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 12 Oct 2017.


We invite you to share your opinion whether wild boar should be culled in order to control the population? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should wild boar be culled in order to control the population?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop wildlife crime. By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.

 

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Ted Hodoba
Ted Hodoba

The food chain consists of predator, prey, and the food the prey eats. Remove the predators as in this case and the prey can become very destructive and cause the decline of other animal and plant species. The food chain and web is out of balance. It then requires humans (the arch predator that we have become) to reduce the prey population either directly or by the re-introduction of native predators. Unfortunately, often times this is impossible due to a number of factors usually human opposition to these predators such as wolves. As a result, culling becomes a necessary evil.

Ama Menec
Ama Menec

I used to live in the Forest of Dean and I never saw a wild boar, much as I’d have loved to have done. Wild Boar are important geoengineers, who root up bracken (the only species to do so), and so halt brackens rampant take over of the forest. They create vital pockets for rarer plants to thrive in. In an area intensively farmed for fir trees, (8 million if you’re asking), wild boar are much needed to break up this mono culture and enable other plants to get some space to grow. This is the reason for the Forestry… Read more »

Jane Rudner

No. Humans should be culled to make this world a better place. No other animal is capable of causing the cruelty to and extinction of other species. Not to mention the destruction of the earth and senseless murder of other people. What do you want from the poor badger? THE FOREST IS THEIR HOME. The only reason humans are in the forest is to murder the residents. No other animal’s behavior is as egregious as the human. Few things can be as unnerving as humans suddenly coming upon innocent sentient beings and needlessly snuffing out their lives.

Tina Shurtleff

No! Birth control methods work just fine. Stop the kill mentality

Anne Grice

Voted NO

Norma Hurt

well they have litters at a time, they are very mean and can ripe a person to shreds or a pet dog has no chance against them so I would say yes but on restricted times.

Teri Parsons

It always depends, if the animal is a native species or an alien, invasive species. An ecosystem can only provide so much life-support, food and habitat, and this should be preserved for native species only as the native species provide the ecological jobs and work force in the economy of life itself. Invasive, unnatural introduced species are listed as a top agent of the extinctions of Earth’s strands in the web of all life or biological diversity and bio means, Life. The science of Conservation Biology lists it “Evil Quartet” or the four top causes of the extinctions of biological… Read more »

Tonia Vassila

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Chandra Kulupana

Voted No 1

Tracy Jayne Bonner

No !

Margaret Thomasson

No defiantly not no human has the right to kill any life every being has a date to be born and a date to die in gods plan

Gabriel Collier

No, but the human animal should!

Cate Dougherty

sadly, yes….they interbreed with domestic stock…really do attack pets and children in the their yards…are vicious and multiply at great numbers…this is a truly dangerous invasive species while will additionally kill of any wildlife it can get ahold of as it is omnivorous

Linda Radtke

Should the human population be culled due to their destructive nature?!

Angela Hannington

What do you think Wars and diseases are for?

Roseann Somers

You should FKIN cull humans !!!..they are making BILLIONS of worthless pests …devouring/eradicating and destroying planet earth. We need more animals u conceited humans!!

Brenda Boutin

When will they start culling people. Someday it will come to that.

Tierra Chapman

Cull animal abusers and killers, poach all poachers, or, in the spirt of COEXISTING WITH NATURE, use creative vs violent approaches when dealing with so-called problems that involve non-human beings. It’s their world too, and their lives are not ours to take – those inbreds who think otherwise are finally a minority. May those who choose violence over coexistence soon become extinct.

Teri Parsons

What is vital to the very existence of planet Earth is her wild and native species only, scientifically, biological diversity and bio means, “life”, the literal strands in the web of all life on Earth, including planet Earth’s very existence. Mankind is only alive and breathing oxygen and has water because of Earth’s first, natural and wild surfaces only, created, supported, sustained, maintained and protected only by all wild and native species, only or biological diversity. The science of Conservation Biology lists its four top agents of the extinctions of biological diversity in its, “Evil Quartet”: habitat loss and fragmention… Read more »

Kyanna Hanscom

NO!

Lynne McNulty

If we follow the line of ‘getting rid’ of stuff that gets in our way or makes us fearful – then where will that end. I have to put up with other people’s cats and occasionally dogs in my garden – oh and frightened deer running all over the place not to mention packs of fox hounds

Teri Parsons

You got something right at least. Only wild, native species, scientifically, biological diversity and bio means, Life, create, support, sustain, conserve and protect planet Earth. The science of Conservation Biology lists its Evil Quartet or the four top causes of the extinctions of the strands in the web of all life or biological diversity: habitat loss and fragmenation; over harvesting [over-hunting, fishing, etc.]; introduced predators [domestic cat takes top honors] and competitors. Competitors are introduced, non-native species and steal the habitat, food and life-support from biological diversity. A team of scientists reported, for every species of biological diversity, only, that… Read more »

Steve Elliott

Unfortnately if the wild boar population expands we will lose all our bluebell woods, so I reluctantly voted ‘yes’

Bharat
Bharat

That indeed would a pity. But consider: If the homo sapien population expands the way it is we will lose all our woods let alone blue bells…

The problem as I see it is it is humans who are encroaching into boar territory, not the other way around as we like to conveniently expound.

Lynne McNulty

Muncjac first then I think – don’t you ?

Steve Elliott

Lynne McNulty Yes Lynne, again regretably, the damage they do to nightingale habitat is the aspect that is persuading me

Sofie L. Forsberg

NO!

Ray McMillan

I do believe in population control for humans which no one wants to discuss….the day humans hunt other humans with a view to reducing the human population will be the only time I will consider supporting culling of animals to reduce animal populations …..

Evelyn Ball

Exactly. It is amazing how most humans want to kill/cull any species but when it comes to our overpopulation, no one says a thing. Our species has a little too much arrogance in thinking we are so special when we are just an animal, a mammal, like any other species. Non human animals have every right and more in many cases to be here.

Teri Parsons

Evelyn Ball Well, the science is very clear, only wild, native species create, support, sustain, conserve and protect planet Earth, the very Earth that alone, generates and releases all life lines for life itself, including all of humankind’s. The National Academy of Sciences states, the extinctions of native species only, scientifically, biological diversity and bio means, “life” are as safe for mankind and Earth as global, thermonuclear war. And, the introduction of invasive, non-native species is one of the top four causes of extinction, according to science. The extinction rate of today’s strands in the web of all life is… Read more »

Bharat
Bharat

“…They can multiply nearly as fast as rabbits, they are extremely dangerous with their temperamental natures and tusks… plus the damage they can do to the environment…”
I guess you are talking about homo sapiens, right?!!

Frankly, it is human population that has grown beyond ability of Earth to nurture long term. We need only to look into ourselves to correct all that we seem to think is wrong with Earth and mother nature.

As for these pigs, feasibility of translocation to parts of the world that may benefit from their presence should be considered first. (Healthy animals, duly treated for ailments.)

Juanita Cunningham

Pts the people that is so cruel!

Bharat
Bharat

If at all boar culling in necessary convert it into a canned trophy hunting program – like in parts of Africa. People pay to enjoy the sport, at least the funds can be used fruitfully to preserve or re-establish wildlife elsewhere.

Angela Hannington

Yes. They can multiply nearly as fast as rabbits, they are extremely dangerous with their temperamental natures and tusks… plus the damage they can do to the environment…
their numbers have already gone over 4-6 million?
I only ask that it’s done humanely.

Linda Radtke

There is no such thing as humane killing!

Angela Hannington

Linda Radtke yes there is.

Julie Cox

No, they should not be culled

Mars Greenwood

no

Chaille Dee

Its their home, we are the intruders….simple, so just kill anything that man does not like his way????????They got there for a reason, and we again helped it, like deer, block them in, take away their land, and build, overpopulate the human race, and yep a cull is the answer to all we have done,,,,we as humans have overpopulated and the the only thing now that sadly is happening we kill our own kind for reasons prehistoric and sick….so kill kill kill….always the answer and we make the issues, introduce animals, breed, hunt and hang their heads on the wall…if… Read more »