The number of wild boar in England is estimated to have increased by 50% in the past year, prompting a warning from the National Pig Association (NPA) that the rise is “storing up potential problems” for the future of the farming industry.
The latest survey figures estimate there are now 1,562 wild boar roaming Gloucestershire and Herefordshire’s Forest of Dean, equivalent to about 21 per sq.km.
NPA’s Zoe Davies says the rise in numbers is a “genuine threat” to the pig farming industry and has called for more action from Defra to combat the problem.
“Wild boar can and do gain access to pig farms, where they steal food and mate with sows,” she said, adding that the potential for disease spread is considerable.
“In the event of a notifiable disease outbreak, this risks the UK pig industry losing its export market, something that would be extremely difficult to regain.”
NPA wants to see a more coordinated and effective approach being taken towards the management of wild boar populations, with Defra allocating “appropriate resources”, including financial support, to the issue.
The authors of a Forestry Commission report on the latest survey estimate say the 50% increase is “disappointing”, stating that the surge in numbers occurred despite a cull of 422 wild boar in the forest in the past year.
New modelling now suggests a further cull of 712 animals will be required to stabilise the population.
NPA has also asked its members to help track new sightings of wild boar by entering any relevant information on http://www.wild-boar.org.uk/report_a_sighting/