Situation for wild boar in the UK is becoming increasingly dire

Posted on the 1st March 2019

With natural habitats dwindling, and wildlife suffering from human intervention, it is remarkable that wild boar can survive and thrive. We should protect the boar, not demonise and persecute them.

History of wild boar 

Wild boar were made extinct in Britain around 400 years ago. In the 1990s farmers reintroduced them to this country.  Many escaped, or were dumped around the UK, and have established themselves in a few forests around the country. One of the largest colonies is in the Forest of Dean. Another, much smaller, group have established themselves near the National Trust’s Stourhead Estate. Both of these groups of boar have unsuspectingly found themselves receiving national press coverage, due to people becoming displeased with their presence in particular areas.

Since boar have been returned to the UK, they have been extremely successful in repopulating. Climate change means the winters are getting milder, and the food supply for wild boar is becoming more abundant. Harsh winters and scarcity of food in the past would have meant that wild boar numbers remained relatively low in comparison to present numbers. Unfortunately, rising populations mean increased conflicts with humans, resulting in calls for them to be culled.

Wild boar in Stourhead

Animal Aid was made aware of the situation at Stourhead in November 2018. Other high-profile animal protection organisations have joined us in speaking out against these unethical and misguided plans. Born Free, HSI UK, IFAW, PETA and Viva! all joined us in signing a letter to the chairman of the National Trust, calling for an immediate end to the cull plans. The Guardian published an article about our joint opposition to the plans.

On Friday 15th February, Animal Aid met with two representatives from the National Trust to discuss the matter of the wild boar. Even though this dispute is still on-going, some positive news that emerged was that the wild boar are still alive and haven’t been culled as yet. The National Trust do still intend to cull the boar if they return to problem areas, but at the moment the boar seem to have removed themselves from these. Animal Aid recommended a number of measures, focusing on educating the public to safely interact with wildlife, fencing and potential long-term solutions including immunocontraceptives. Unfortunately the National Trust were unwilling to commit to not culling the wild boar in the areas around the Stourhead Estate, but our dialogue with them continues.

Forest of Dean

The situation the Forest of Dean is also escalating, with recent reports of two additional gunmen being hired to assist in the cull of boar. More than 1,000 wild boar roam free in the Forest of Dean, according to the Forestry Commission who have begun a cull to kill around 600 of them.

We feel that culling wildlife is always cruel and unnecessary.  Large-scale culling such as that in the Forest of Dean can result in mothers being killed, condemning their young to a slow and painful death. It can disrupt the complex social structure of the boar. Most importantly, these boar have the right to live out their lives free from harm inflicted by humans, and killing 60% of their population is wholly unethical. Humane alternatives to culling need to be explored by the authorities so such cruel and drastic action is avoided.

How to help

There are a few ways you can support wild boar. Educating people about the history and nature of wild boar is a great way to start. We would also recommend politely writing to the Natural Trust to voice your objections to their wild boar cull and writing to your MP voicing your concerns around the cull in the Forest of Dean, especially if you live nearby.

Write to the National Trust

Although not as direct, adopting a vegan diet is also a very effective way of helping all animals, from those in farms, to wildlife such as boar. Animal agriculture has an undeniable impact on the environment, and climate change has huge implications for wildlife across the world. Going vegan is a way to help combat climate change, and support the wildlife who are suffering the consequences.

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