Wild Boar in the UK
Graig Farm looks at the history of Wild Boar in the UK.
It’s not all that easy being a Wild Boar in the UK in 2014, in facts it’s not too easy to be a Wild Boar across Europe in 2014.
Wild Boar’s are often on the end of negative publicity for damaging land, eating crops and dog attacks, we can’t help but think they are on the receiving end of a hard time, considering they were re-introduced in the UK only a couple of decades ago after an absence of hundreds of years…
What is a Wild Boar?
The wild boar is a member of the pig family; it is a large mammal, a male can weigh anything up to 200kg. At around two metres long, the wild boar has a short bristly hair which in Western Europe is generally brown.
The Wild boar is even toed, similar to red deer and cattle, a boar will have cloven hooves which are formed by two toes, each encased in horn. These toes can spread out to make walking over mud or soft ground easier.
How long do wild boars live?
In the wild, the lifespan of a boar is around ten years, although some tougher boars have known to live until almost thirty years old. When a boar is kept in captivity the lifespan increases to around 25 years.
How do Wild Boars live?
The Wild boar is a social animal, living in groups of up to 20. The groups are normally headed up with a couple of senior females and their litters. There have been a number of sightings of groups numbering 50-100. The natural habitat of the Boar in the UK is woodland.
Typical food eaten by the boar includes roots, insects, worms, berries, nuts, carrion, bird’s eggs and small mammals.
Wild Boar Physical attributes
Whilst the boar’s eyesight is poor, the boar has an excellent sense of smell and it uses its nose to find food on the forest floor. The boar’s snout isn’t just used for sniffing out food either, large amounts of muscle mean that the nose can be used to turn over dead logs and uproot plants. The boar also has excellent hearing and communicates through noises created from its… you guessed it… its snout.
Wild Boar behaviour and intelligence
The Wild Boar is a highly intelligent animal, widely considered to be one of the most intelligent of all mammals.
Although having a fierce reputation, it’s extremely rare that a wild boar is aggressive towards a human. The same cannot be said for each other, sows can battle with each other for dominance and the males unsurprisingly become aggressive with one another during the mating season.
Wild Boar UK extinction
The date at which wild boar finally became extinct in Britain is unknown, mainly due to constant attempts at re – introduction. It is thought that British Wild boars were extinct by the end of the 13th century, and re introduced animals were extinct by the end of the 17th century. The Wild Boar were hunted to extinction because the majority of those living in the countryside regarded them as agricultural nuisances.
Wild Boar Return to the UK
The Wild Boar over the last couple of decades has been introduced ‘accidentally’ back into the UK. An increase in the demand increased Wild Boar in kept in captivity led to many Boars escaping from captivity or being released by animal rights groups. The Boars natural suitability to the UK climate has meant that reproducing and prospering in the wild has not been a problem.
Today populations exist in Scotland, Kent, East Sussex, and Devon.
Wild Boar arguments
Wild Boar cause controversy because of the high impact they make on areas they reside in. The fact that boar are omnivorous means that they are extremely willing and capable of capitalising on any food source that makes itself available. They will take bird’s eggs and crops and often fences become ruined obstacles in a boars hunt for food.
There is also proof of Wild Boar heading to urban areas and raiding bins in the hunt for food, whilst those in the countryside can spread diseases to cattle.
On the other hand, some argue that boar play a crucial part of a woodland eco system, the disturbance of the ground caused by Wild Boar have been reported to benefit a number of individual plant species whilst their diet means that bracken in areas with boar populations has declined. A lot of the pro Wild Boar arguments hinge on the fact that Wild Boar was always an indigenous species.
Wild Boar Meat
There are always advantages of eating good quality organic meat. Wild Boar meat has a sweet, nutty and intense flavour and is much leaner and of a deeper red colour than its cousin, pork meat. Unlike Pork, Wild Boar meat is a low fat meat and is full of nutrients.