The National Pig Association (NPA) has issued a renewed call for “proper controls” to be introduced to control feral wild boar in the Forest of Dean, highlighting the rising threat posed to commercial pigs by the rising population.
The Association and the Deer Initiative are to host a wild boar summit in January to discuss possible solutions to the “worsening situation” with the most recent survey figures showing an estimated 1,562 feral wild boar are current roaming the forest. That’s a 50% increase on 2015, with additional evidence that the population is also spreading to new areas.
The NPA says the situation warrants a more effective and co-ordinated control policy, backed by Defra.
“We need to be mindful that in Eastern Europe wild boar have been integral in the spread of the deadly African swine fever (ASF) virus,” said NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies, adding that if ASF got into the UK’s wild boar population, it would become almost impossible to prove that the disease had been stamped out.
“This would wreck our burgeoning export market, now worth £350 million a year, with devastating consequences for the industry.”
The planned wild boar summit is designed to highlight to MPs and bodies like Natural England, Defra and the Forestry Commission the wider implications of further feral wild boar population growth on the pig industry, as well as the wider impact on local communities.
“We will be encouraging local landowners to join forces and help the Forestry Commission to properly control the population and prevent further spread,” said Dr Davies. “But we also need co-ordinated action.
“Defra believes that wild boar control should be the responsibility of the landowner. We are therefore calling for Defra to put pressure on the Forestry Commission, as responsible landowner of a significant proportion of the Forest of Dean, to carry out an efficient cull that is properly resourced.
“The wild boar population is expanding because the conditions – warm winters, plentiful food and no natural predators – are ideal. The Deer Initiative predicts the population could reach 10,000 by 2020 unless proper controls are put in place. That would not be in anybody’s interests.”