Background information on the feral wild boar in the Forest of Dean
300 years ago the wild boar were a common sight across the UK, but as a popular food source they were hunted to extinction. They re-appeared back in the Forest of Dean around the late 1990s, and are believed to have accidently escaped or been deliberately released back into the district.
If wild boar are left undisturbed they are unlikely to become aggressive. However, there have been a number of incidents across the district where boar have caused damage to land and injury to pets.
The Council has put a few FAQ’s together below to provide helpful information on the boar, including useful web links for relevant organisations.
Frequently asked questions
What is the Council’s role with regard to wild boar in the Forest of Dean district?
As a Council we acknowledge that the wild boar population is an issue of much community interest, however, the control of boar numbers in the district is not the responsibility of the District Council.
Feral boar are wild animals, and as such do not belong to anyone and are a matter for individual land owners. The Forestry Commission only have jurisdiction over land they manage.
At a Full Council meeting on 27 February 2014, the democratically elected members debated and agreed for the Council to support the Forestry Commission in adopting effective management methods within their agreed management plan 2010 to 2016, to control and maintain a sustainable feral wild boar population in the district. The Council engaged with the Forestry Commission to help develop a management strategy to control the numbers. A representative from the Forestry Commission attends the Council’s Scrutiny Committee meetings twice a year to provide updates on boar-related matters.
Who is responsible for protecting land and property from damage caused by wild boar?
It is the responsibility of the landowner to protect their land and property from wildlife. For information and guidelines on wild boar preventative fencing visit www.wild-boar.org.uk
Are wild boar dangerous?
The boar have relatively poor eyesight, but they do have a keen sense of smell. They are largely nocturnal and are extremely shy of humans, but if they sense or hear people or dogs moving towards them they often react by moving towards the intruder to be able to see who or what is approaching them. This action is often interpreted as aggressive behaviour.
A female boar, known as a ‘sow’, will readily move to defend her young if she feels threatened, so she should always be treated with caution and respect. The advice is if you see a boar with babies keep a wide berth.
What can I do to avoid problems with wild boar?
Wildlife experts recommend the following actions to encourage boar to remain deep in the Forest where they belong:
Do not feed the boar as this encourages them into villages and towns, which means they are more likely to come into contact with humans and their land and property.
Do not leave food and rubbish around, including bird and pet food and put waste bins out at kerbside by 7.30am on the day of collection. This will help to prevent the boar from scavenging at night.
Ensure fences and gates are secure and in good condition to prevent the boar accessing land and property.
Avoid walking through dense undergrowth and closely populated trees where wild boar may be resting in their ‘farrowing nests’, particularly in the spring (February to May) when litters are born and the sows will be protective of their young and may become defensive.
Take care whilst driving in the district and keep to a reasonable speed. The Forest of Dean is home to a number of animals, including boar, deer and sheep that can cause a great deal of damage should they come into contact with a vehicle.
What should I do if I encounter a wild boar?
If you see a boar wildlife experts recommend the following:
Do not approach them - if possible leave the area by the same route you approached by, or make a detour giving the boar a wide berth. Always keep your dog under control when you are walking in the Forest to minimise disturbance to wildlife. If you see a boar and have a dog off its lead, call the dog to heel and put it on the lead immediately. If you know your dog is unlikely to respond to your commands in a woodland environment, the advice is to keep your dog on a lead.
If your dog chases a boar, stay at a safe distance and continue to call the dog back - do not approach the boar or interfere.
I have found a deceased boar; can someone come and collect it?
If you find a deceased boar on a verge or road contact our Customer Services Team on 01594 810000 (Monday to Thursday 9.00am - 4.45pm & Friday 9.00am - 4.30pm).
If the deceased boar is situated in the statutory Forest contact the Forestry Commission on 03000 674800 (Monday to Friday 9.00am - 3.00pm).
If the deceased boar is on private land contact the land owner or the Defra Helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (UK only) (Monday to Friday 8.30am - 5.00pm).
I have found a wounded boar who do I contact?
To report an injured or distressed animal contact the Forestry Commission on 03000 674800 (Monday to Friday 9.00am - 3.00pm). In the event of an emergency contact the police on 101 or 999.
How many boar are there in the Forest of Dean district?
The Forestry Commission estimated that in 2016 there were approximately 1,500 boar in the Forest of Dean district. The Forestry Commission carries out annual culls in order to manage the population numbers.
Why do the Forestry Commission need to control the feral wild boar in the Forest of Dean?
The growing population of feral wild boar in the Forest of Dean has led to a steady increase in significant impacts upon the resident community, as well as visitors to the district.
The number of road traffic accidents involving boar overtook those involving deer in 2013, and the numbers continue to rise. People have reported being chased by boar, and attacks on dogs are not uncommon. Horse riders also report that some horses are disturbed by the presence of boar, and have escaped from their paddocks, or thrown their riders after being spooked whilst riding in the Forest.
With no natural predators, high levels of reproduction and ideal habitat for food and shelter the current population growth may continue until the population density in the core reaches a level whereby the population starts to self-regulate through limited food resources. It is speculated that this may start to occur when the boar population of the public forest estate in the Dean starts to approach 10,000 animals. As the density of animals in the core of the Forest goes up, the population pressure also pushes the boar out into the surrounding villages and towns.
The short term aim of the Forestry Commission’s wild boar management is to prevent the annual population growth and then start to bring the population back down towards a target level.
Who is permitted to shoot the feral wild boar in the Forest of Dean district?
Wild boar on the public forest estate (land managed by the Forestry Commission) may only be shot by the professional, authorised wildlife rangers employed by the Forestry Commission. The shooting of boar on Forestry Commission land is regulated by internal guidance and is subject to regular skills testing and safety audits to ensure that there is no risk to members of the public accessing the Forest.
Where the private land owners and land managers hold the shooting rights, hold the appropriate firearm and firearms licence, and have the competence to shoot safely, it is perfectly legal for them to shoot boar on their land. For more information and guidelines visit www.wild-boar.org.uk
I would like to protest against the wild boar cull, who do I contact?
The District Council is unable to advise on this matter.
Wild Boar and African swine fever
African swine fever (ASF) is a disease of pigs and wild boar which is present in several European countries and is spreading in other parts of the world. As a result there is an increased risk of it reaching the UK
ASF does not affect people, but if it were to reach the UK it would devastate our wild boar populations as well as our pig and pork industries.
The disease can be spread in infected pork and pork products or food cross contaminated by infected pork. The most likely way of meat infected with ASF virus reaching the UK is by a member of the public bringing produce back from trips to Europe.
It is therefore imperative that members of the public do not feed wild boar or leave food behind in the forest. Feeding wild boar kitchen scraps such as picnic left-overs or catering waste is ILLEGAL, due to the risk of spreading this disease and others such as foot and mouth disease.
ASF can also be spread on contaminated clothing, footwear and vehicles.
What can I do to help keep ASF out of the UK?
- Make sure you dispose of any food products in a secure bin.
- NEVER feed wild boar or pigs when walking in the countryside.
For more information on ASF visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/african-swine-fever.
Where can I find more information about the wild boar?
The following link is to the Forestry Commission report relating to the wild boar: