Boar were once common in the Forest of Dean and were hunted for food. In medieval times, boar from the Royal Forest were supplied for the King's table - there is a record of an order for 100 boars and sows for a Christmas feast in 1254. Boar are thought to have become extinct in Britain not long after this time.
The farming of wild boar in Britain became fashionable in the 1970's but was not particularly profitable. In 1999 boar escaped, or were released, from a farm near Ross-on-Wye. In 2004 a group of about sixty farm-raised boar were dumped near Staunton. Boar are now feral throughout the Forest Area.
Wild boar are normally secretive, and largely nocturnal if they are not interfered with and are unlikely to attack people. There have, however, been a number of problems with boar in the Forest of Dean with damage or injury to people, pets and property.
What should I do to avoid problems with wild boar?
- Do not feed the boar - feeding encourages them into closer contact with humans where the scope for less desirable activity increases
- Do not leave food around, including rubbish and bird/pet food – put out bin bags on day of collection - boar are omnivores and scavenge freely
- Ensure your fences are secure – stock proof fences can be very effective at keeping boar out - gardens can be wrecked very quickly by a small number of boar
- Keep your dog under close control – a number of dogs have been seriously injured by the boar and it is best to avoid the interaction if at all possible, this will also help reduce disturbance to other wildlife too.
- Do not walk through dense undergrowth where wild boar may be encountered at close quarters, such areas are favoured as breeding and resting sites. Boar have a long breeding season but most litters are born in the spring (Feb to May) when there may be potentially dangerous defensive sows with young piglets
- Drive at a reasonable speed in the Forest at night – boar can cause great damage to vehicles if hit, this is also true of other animals such as deer and sheep.
What should I do if I encounter a wild boar?
If you encounter wild boar whilst out in the countryside,
- Do not approach them – if possible leave the area by the same route you approached by, or make a detour giving the animals a wide berth
- If you have a dog off its lead, call the dog to heel and put the lead on it immediately
- 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