The national furore over the planned badger cull is gaining momentum, and there are serious concerns on all sides that peaceful protest and objection might spill over into violent confrontation. While all this is happening, another cull is quietly going ahead: that of 100 wild boar in the Forest of Dean.
The Forest of Dean is a leafy corner of Gloucestershire that relatively few people visit, or know about. An ancient royal hunting forest, recorded since pre-Norman Conquest times, it was an asset of the Crown throughout Mediaeval times. And as with forests elsewhere in Britain, it was once home to native wild boar - Sus scrofa.
In 2006, the boar returned. An unofficial (illegal) reintroduction re-established the species, and numbers have since grown to the low hundreds. Estimates vary from 200 to 650, and the responses from various quarters have been radically different.
The Forestry Commission wants to cull them, as it has done previously, to keep numbers in check. Boar conservation groups like Friends of the Boar (http://friendsoftheboar.blogspot.co.uk/) argue that estimates are too high, and that a cull is unneccesary and counterproductive.
So whilst the nation passionately debates the imminent badger cull, a cull of wild boar looks set to go almost unnoticed. This is what Friends of the Boar said on their blog a few days ago (26/9/12):
"It is with regret that FotB have to announce that the Forestry Commission (FC) has once again ignored our estimation of boar numbers in the Forest of Dean, but have instead chosen to cull 100 animals between September 2012 and January 2013. They unequivocally reject any debate, carrying out their own unfounded beliefs of what should be done.
"We say 200 boar are present, they claim 600-650. A cull of 100 in such a rapid way may be again disastrous with respect to the future existence of boar, their health, compensatory rebound effect and amenity grass damage. We will no doubt return to the conditions of 2009 when we witnessed a huge spurt in piglet numbers, increasing numbers of tame boar and widespread overturning of road verges and picnic sites."