From personal experiences, research and a good understanding of wild boar, we have put together some facts, which will help you avoid wild boar and also give you vital information of what to do if you do encounter wild boar while walking your dog in the Forest of Dean.
Please note that the information provided is for guidance only. As with all wildlife, wild boar are wild animals and therefore can be unpredictable.
How do I know if wild boar are in the area I am walking?
Tracks and Signs
If you walk in the same areas on a daily/weekly basis, familiarise yourself with the verges of the paths.
Look for fresh signs of boar activity. This will come in the form of footprints and turned over grass.
Unlike deer, boar leave two indentations at the rear of the main hoof print. These are caused by their dew-claws. You will be able to work out, which way the boar has walked from their prints and can avoid walking in the same direction if you choose to.
If a boar has recently searched for food in the area you are walking you will see freshly turned over soil/grass. It can be harder during the hot summer months as the ground is very dry and hard, but you can still see differences from pervious walks and this is why it is important to familiarise yourself with your surroundings.
Wild boar give off an unmistakable aroma. If you smell something that resembles a farmyard, or livestock, boar will be very close to you.
The best advice is to stop, put your dog on a tight, close lead and backtrack.
If you are comfortable you can carry on the way you are walking, but be aware that boar are close, so keep your eyes and ears open for them.
Areas to Avoid
Please do not let your dog run through areas such as thick bracken and dense forested areas. Even if you can see your dog, there is a chance that wild boar will be using these areas to sleep during the daytime and if a dog disturbs a sleeping boar, it isn’t going to be very happy!
Good advice and care for your dog is to always keep them close to the path and in sight at all times.
During the winter months the bracken dies down and you can see a lot further into the forest. Wild boar will always avoid interactions with humans and dogs, so it is less likely for a boar to be sleeping near a path during this time.
During the summer months when the bracken and other vegetation is dense, you must keep your dog out of these areas at all times as the chance of a serious incident increases dramatically.
What do I do if I see boar
If you do not wish to see boar while walking your dog, the best advice is to backtrack and find an alternative route if you do see them.
If you can’t, keep your dog on a tight, close lead and just stand still as the boar will usually wander or run away once they spot you.
If the boar move towards you, shout at them and wave your arms in the air as this is usually enough for them to move away. If they keep walking towards you, do not run, just turn and walk in the opposite direction while keeping your dog close as the boar could have young nearby.
Be confident and remember that wild boar do not intentionally look for conflict with dogs and if you give them space they will avoid you.
Dogs bark and some will bark at wildlife. There is a higher chance that boar will become agitated if a dog is barking at them. You can’t stop your dog barking, but this is something to be aware of.
What time of the year am I most likely to see boar
The majority of Piglet births happen during the months of February and March.
Like our deer, wild boar have a rut and this occurs during late October when males will search for a receptive sow.
After a gestation period of approx. 4 months the sow will give birth to an average of 5 piglets. She will suckle and wean them for a further 4 months and during this time they will be seen during the daytime while the piglets grow and become independent.
It is advisable to keep your dogs close at all times.
How can I let the boar know I am there?
You can pick up a pair of bells for you dog collars from Amazon for less than £6.
The noise from the bells will alert all wildlife to your dog’s presence long before you see it.
A very good idea and a lot of people are already using them.
A note from us…
Hundreds of dogs are walked in the Forest of Dean daily.
There are dog/boar encounters in our forest daily.
Thankfully, unfortunate incidents are not common considering the above, but when it does happen it is obviously a very frightening and traumatic experience and also heart breaking for the owners of the dog.
The boar have been present in the Forest of Dean statutory forest since 2004. They are here to stay and it is up to us, as responsible dog owners to do everything we can to avoid conflict with this animal.
We hope that the above will help you enjoy your dog walks, incident free.