Wild boars are back in Britain. It sounds like historial reenactment, doesn’t it? But it’s true as we discussed here recently.
The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is native to Britain but it was hunted to extinction by the end of the 17th century. Now it’s back in Southern England. Martin Goulding at British Wild Boar (BWB) tells the story. Sarah Campbell at the BBC told us four years ago that wild boar populations were increasing (scroll down for a map).
Here’s a film about our returned wild boar. The piglets are adorable with their stripy coats but the adults are big enough to cause damage. They root up the land with their strong snouts and they eat crops. If provoked they can attack.
S. scrofa is an ancestor of our more familiar farmed pig (Sus domesticus). There’s been outcrossing to improve the farmed pig but we still have the Tamworth breed, believed to resemble the Old English Forest Pig.
You might want to follow my tag ‘pig’ for posts about farmed pigs. It’s worth noticing that S. domesticus is also called Sus scrofa domesticus, in other words, it’s a subspecies of the wild boar. Wild boar and domestic pigs can interbreed as they do in parts of North America.
People’s response to pigs roaming free can be ‘Not In My Back Yard.’ NIMBY. Bella Barhurst at the Observer says that people don’t always agree about wild boar. She asks, ‘Should they be hunted, should they be farmed, and can they ever just be left to get on with being themselves?’ To her last question I say no. We can’t simply ignore the wild boar on this densely populated set of islands.
Dr Goulding at BWB discusses options for wild boar control. He has a point: S. scrofa is here again now and it’s spreading. This wasn’t a deliberate reintroduction but as BWB’s photographs and films show, S. scrofa can live quite happily in places where people live.
Natural England (NE) is a statutory body responsible to Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Here is NE’s advice about the management and control of wild boar. There’s more advice from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). Since BASC is the UK’s largest shooting organisation it’s no surprise that it offers advice on shooting wild boar. But it also provides information about the law and the conservation status of this species.
Here’s another film about wild boar in England, this time featuring an interview with Dr Goulding. And some fabulous footage of wild boars tucking into a meal. Tempted to feed the boars in your back garden? Quite frankly, I wouldn’t. They’re big and my vegetables wouldn’t stand much chance. If I had a market garden I wouldn’t be very impressed either. But conserving the boars in woodland? Yes we should do that. They belong here and they won’t attack you unless you provoke them.
As you know I don’t shoot but I’ve no problem with people shooting. Whether hunted in the countryside or raised on farms, wild boar meat can taste great. Treat it like venison. Here are some recipes.