An Introduction to Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean

To form an opinion on anything you need to be armed with the facts....

.....  here is a short introduction to wild boar, and some information about this special species that inhabits the Forest of Dean, and UK. we will go into more detail in other pages on this website.


The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a true native species to Britain. 


Historically they were a favourite festive meat for Royals, because of this, and as a result of hunting, they became extinct across Britain during the 13th century. Throughout Europe, over many centuries, it has been almost unheard of for wild boar to become aggressive towards well-meaning humans.


Here are some statistics about UK wild boar:


Species: Sus scrofa

Collective Term: Sounder

Weight of female boar: 80 - 120 kg

Weight of male boar: 100 - 175 kg

Life Span: Up to 14 years but due to environmental pressures very few survive past 5 years

Sexual maturity of females: 8 - 15 months

Sexual maturity of males: 7 - 10 months

Height at shoulder (varies with age/sex): 55cm – 1.1m

Length of body (varies with age/sex): 90cm – 1.8m

Litters per Year: 1, very rarely 2

Average Litter Size: 4-6

Age of Weaning: 6 – 12 weeks

Weight of a piglet at birth: 0.4 - 0.8 kg

Length of gestation: 120 days

Speed: Can run up to 30 mph 


Coats:

Wild boar have a dense coat of coarse bristles which vary greatly in colour based on the age of the animal. Piglets are born with a softer coat of brown and yellow stripes which is reflected in their nickname of ‘humbugs’. These stripes are often used as camouflage against the forest floor to hide them from any predators or threats. At the age of 3-4 months they outgrow their stripes, moult, and take on their first adult coat of uniform reddish brown and as they get older and mature further the coat darkens and becomes dark brown/black.


Tusks:

Contrary to belief, both male and female wild boar have tusks present. Male wild boar grow tusks from about 2 years, and have both upper and lower tusks. The top tusk being hollow and used by the lower tusks to keep sharp. Tusks on a male can reach over 6cm, however on a female they only grow to half this size and females only have lower tusks and they do not protrude like male ones do 


Eyesight:

Wild boar have very poor eyesight and rely on their hearing, and excellent sense of smell, to alert them to a possible threat. Whilst they can see movement it isn't until they approach us that they realise what we are. If a wild boar approaches you it is almost certainly just trying to see what you are, and once they have, they usually give a ‘snort’ and run off.


Wild Boar and Dogs:

Wild boar are no different to any of our other wildlife. They have a reputation for disliking dogs and may even attack if they feel threatened. Raised hackles on the neck, growling or grunting, and obvious agitation (mock charges) are signs that you should move away with your dog. If you have a dog with you on a lead and you spot wild boar from a distance, turn around and walk the other way. Keep dogs that like to rush into undergrowth on a lead. Historically the main predator of wild boar was the wolf, when wild boar sees a dog; to them, it is a wolf! If they feel threatened there is a small chance of an attack, but this is very rare. We highly recommend putting a bell on your dog’s collar to warn wildlife of their presence.


Mothers and Young:

Wild boar give birth once per year, very very rarely twice, please do not believe all the headlines which state wild boar give birth 3 times a year to 15 piglets each time, this is simply not true and virtually biologically impossible. Sows are understandably wary when they have young; the average number of piglets is 4-6 per sow per year. It is possible to see wild boar group together in “sounders” when 3+ sows and 18+ piglets can play together. Piglets with their mothers can be a lovely experience; please don’t risk spoiling it by getting too close. Like any other species on the planet ‘mum’ has a duty to protect her young.


Have wild boar been active in your locality? 

Rubbing Posts: After wallowing, wild boar will rub themselves up against things. Look for muddy bases to trees or poles. Wild boar will also use these posts to keep their tusks sharp.

Footprints/Tracks: Wild boar footprints are approx. 10cm long and 5 cm wide. They have two back dew claws that are wider than the front, and the prints are more rounded than deer.

Wallows: Wild boar will wallow in mud to control their temperature and rid their hair of parasites. Look for smooth hollows in wet ground.

Rooting: Turfs of grass are turned over as the wild boar root for food. This can have a very positive effective on the soil and other surrounding wildlife, especially in winter as it helps the birds/small mammals feed when the ground is frozen.

Droppings (middle): Droppings are sausage shaped and are black when fresh, they will break into small droppings and turn grey over time.


MOST IMPORTANT - Please DO NOT feed the wild boar:


Not only will it increase the chance of them contracting, and spreading, disease such as African swine fever (ASF), feeding wild boar will habituate them  and can cause them to lose their natural fear of humans. In turn this could cause conflict with people who do not want the wild boar approaching them. This activity will also make the wild boar easy targets for poachers. 


If you are comfortable and confident being around the wild boar, just stand and admire them, they are very capable of finding their own diet. 


As with all wildlife, treat with respect and remember you are in their home when you are out walking. 


By following these guidelines, you will hopefully have a wonderful experience.

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