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Increasing communications to highlight the risks posed by wild boar

8th Apr 2024 / By Katie Jarvis

The AHDB-led Feral Wild Boar working group met after a hiatus of over a year at the beginning of April to discuss the current situation of wild boar in Great Britain and the growing threat of African Swine Fever.

wild boar 5APHA is the responsible body for feral wild boar management, and currently follows a strategy of monitoring and controlling the population, conducting annual surveys to establish how many boar are present in the country.

Pockets of feral wild boar exist in the South East and South West of England, South East Wales and North West Scotland, however wild boar numbers in GB are highest in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

Where there are boar populations on land management by Forestry England, population control takes place alongside surveys to keep numbers at a level which maintains a healthy population while minimising their impact on the local area.

The most recent survey from Forestry England in the Forest of Dean took place in spring 2023, with findings suggesting there are around 658 individual animals in the Forest, though the results of the 2024 survey are due in the summer.

To control and monitor the population, a number of feral wild boar are shot each year in a set period by trained Forestry Commission rangers. As well as managing numbers, the rangers in the Forest take samples from any animals found dead to send to the Pirbright Institute.

Here the samples are tested for ASF, and most recent sampling in the last few weeks has fortunately been negative for ASF.

APHA encourages the reporting of live wild boar through a dedicated hotline, and of dead boar through the APHA hotline. There are also guidance documents available to assist local authorities. Engaging with farmers and the general public in the Forest is a priority, as it is more important now than ever that wild boar are not fed food products which could contain ASF.

The Feral Wild Boar working group is also a valuable way for NPA, AHDB, local farmers, APHA, the Forestry Commission and others to work together on joint communications strategies to address issues around wild boar.

In the April meeting, the group decided to increase communications so that those living in and visiting the Forest of Dean, as well as other areas with wild boar populations, are aware of how they should engage with the boar - that is, not at all!

We will be putting together print and social media messaging over the next few weeks and months to reiterate the message that the boar are wild animals, and should not be fed or approached as they pose an ASF risk to all domestic pigs.

As our ASF preparedness work ramps up, the discussion on wild boar has given us more to think about and will be factored into industry discussions going forward.