Call for cull as escaped wild boars destroy Scottish livestock

0
272

HORDES of escaped wild boar have been killing and eating livestock across Scotland, leading to calls for a cull.

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) has complained of “significant damage” to farmland in the west Highlands caused by wild boars which have escaped from farms and animal parks.

Gamekeepers and nature experts have suggested that if action is not taken soon, it may be impossible to stop numbers of wild boar in Scotland spiralling to an uncontrollable level.

Wild boar can weigh 300Kgs, run at 30mph, jump fences up to 3ft high, and are equipped with sharp tusks.

In the past year there have been eyewitness reports of lambs being skinned and eaten by packs of wild boar across the UK.

A spokesman for the SGA said: “The probability is that these boar were initially escapees from farms rearing boar for the food market. Whilst that may have been preventable, we are now beyond that stage in Scotland.

“It is very difficult to gauge exact numbers because they are active mostly at night. Increasing prevalence of rooting damage to fields, gardens and lawns is the clearest indication that their numbers are growing.”

The spokesman said there was evidence of boars killing lambs and this had been backed up anecdotally by farmers’ accounts in West Lochaber.

Picture by Adrian Corte
Picture by Adrian Corte

He added: “The SGA asked several years ago that SNH [Scottish Natural Heritage] produce proper guidance so that those whose interests were adversely affected by boar impacts knew what they could do legally and humanely, to minimise damage.

“It is encouraging that SNH is now looking at this. Action needs to be taken before it becomes a costly problem in terms of the public purse.”

Alistair MacGuagan, wildlife management manager for Scottish National Heritage said that if a cull of boars was proposed, it would have to happen very quickly.

MacGuagan said: “If the decision is to take [boars] out of the countryside that action has to take place quite soon.

“There is a rather narrow timescale, it can become a practical impossibility.”

Last year, Clare Harvey, a vet, witnessed a pack of six boar hunt and eat a lamb in The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

Talking about the events she witnessed, Harvey said: “It was quite brutal, with the carcass already having been skinned and the piglets tearing it limb from limb.

“We know pigs are omnivores and devour carrion, but this suggested they may have developed a taste for fresh meat.

“There are serious implications for animal health and the spread of disease.”

Wild boar used to run free in Britain in the medieval period, but despite being protected by law – their killing was punishable by blinding – they disappeared from the country in the seventeenth century.

They were later reintroduced to Britain from the continent, but since the 1970s, they have only existed in around 100 farms and animal parks, 30 of which are in Scotland.

HORDES of escaped wild boar have been killing and eating livestock across Scotland, leading to calls for a cull.

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) has complained of “significant damage” to farmland in the west Highlands caused by wild boars which have escaped from farms and animal parks.

Gamekeepers and nature experts have suggested that if action is not taken soon, it may be impossible to stop numbers of wild boar in Scotland spiralling to an uncontrollable level.

Wild boar can weigh 300Kgs, run at 30mph, jump fences up to 3ft high, and are equipped with sharp tusks.

In the past year there have been eyewitness reports of lambs being skinned and eaten by packs of wild boar across the UK.

A spokesman for the SGA said: “The probability is that these boar were initially escapees from farms rearing boar for the food market. Whilst that may have been preventable, we are now beyond that stage in Scotland.

“It is very difficult to gauge exact numbers because they are active mostly at night. Increasing prevalence of rooting damage to fields, gardens and lawns is the clearest indication that their numbers are growing.”

The spokesman said there was evidence of boars killing lambs and this had been backed up anecdotally by farmers’ accounts in West Lochaber.

He added: “The SGA asked several years ago that SNH [Scottish Natural Heritage] produce proper guidance so that those whose interests were adversely affected by boar impacts knew what they could do legally and humanely, to minimise damage.

“It is encouraging that SNH is now looking at this. Action needs to be taken before it becomes a costly problem in terms of the public purse.”

Alistair MacGuagan, wildlife management manager for Scottish National Heritage said that if a cull of boars was proposed, it would have to happen very quickly.

MacGuagan said: “If the decision is to take [boars] out of the countryside that action has to take place quite soon.

“There is a rather narrow timescale, it can become a practical impossibility.”

Last year, Clare Harvey, a vet, witnessed a pack of six boar hunt and eat a lamb in The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

Talking about the events she witnessed, Harvey said: “It was quite brutal, with the carcass already having been skinned and the piglets tearing it limb from limb.

“We know pigs are omnivores and devour carrion, but this suggested they may have developed a taste for fresh meat.

“There are serious implications for animal health and the spread of disease.”

Wild boar used to run free in Britain in the medieval period, but despite being protected by law – their killing was punishable by blinding – they disappeared from the country in the seventeenth century.

They were later reintroduced to Britain from the continent, but since the 1970s, they have only existed in around 100 farms and animal parks, 30 of which are in Scotland.

In May 1996 a wild boar named Pumba, after the Lion King character, escaped from its pen on a farm near Dunbar, East Lothian.

The creature was on the run for over six months, and evaded traps set by park rangers and farmers, as well as several police road blocks, before finally being shot in November of that year.

In May 1996 a wild boar named Pumba, after the Lion King character, escaped from its pen on a farm near Dunbar, East Lothian.

The creature was on the run for over six months, and evaded traps set by park rangers and farmers, as well as several police road blocks, before finally being shot in November of that year.

NO COMMENTS