Our Planet
The silvery wash of the moon illuminates the invaders in our garden
Marine conservation is about proper management not numbers
Lion killed California intern with one swipe of its paw, coroner reveals
Deer cull would threaten thousands of jobs, say furious gamekeepers
We must kill Bambi: why culling deer is a no-brainer
Five shark species win protection against finning trade
Pangolins under threat as black market trade grows
Should we learn to love eating insects?
Rare Sumatran tiger kills farmer in Indonesia
Where screeching, scarlet macaws enjoy raucous celebrity status
Summer's early birds risk their return from wintering grounds
Mexican monarch butterfly numbers at record low, scientists say
Military three-step as birds drill for food through the late winter snow
Beachcombers to hunt out 'mermaid's purses' to help protect sharks
French troops return to the heart of D-day operations
A landscape bathed in cold brilliance
Birdwatch: Pied-billed grebe
National Wildlife Crime Unit left in funding doubt
86 elephants killed in Chad poaching massacre
Polar bear hunting and migration 'hit by warming climate'
Cloning extinct animals: to hell with frogs!
Spring is in the air and Zoroastrians and hares and pagans. And me
When the icy wind drops, the first hint of warmth can be felt in the sun
Don't let good zoos go extinct
  Hundreds of wild boars face cull in Forest of Dean
Just a decade ago, the wildest creatures in the Forest of Dean were deer, sheep, foxes and badgers. But today there are as many as 600 wild boars roaming the 111 sq km (43 sq miles) of ancient Gloucestershire woodland and they are breeding so fast that hundreds may have to be culled, according to an assessment by the Forestry Commission (FC).

The commission's deputy surveyor, Kevin Stannard, told the Forest of Dean council that boar numbers were doubling almost every year. "It is difficult to put a figure on the population but [we] estimate there are in excess of 500 and probably 600 boars in the Forest of Dean. Last year, we set a cull target of 100. That target was met in January, with 78 animals culled by FC staff and 22 animals killed through road traffic accidents."

The FC says that up to 200 boars might now have to be culled but the fiercely independent locals who led the national battle to prevent the woodlands being privatised by the government in 2011 are split. Proud of the fact that the forest sustains the biggest population of boars in Britain, they are also worried that numbers may be out of control. "The largest group could be 20 animals, made up of two or three breeding females and their litters," Stannard said.

Locals have complained that rampaging boars plough up gardens and crops, panic horses, rip up roadside verges, open rubbish bags and are increasingly causing road accidents. "In 18 months' time, it is said we could have 1,000 wild boars in the forest. Nobody knows how many it can sustain," said Martin Quayle, the district council cabinet member for the environment. "They make a hell of a mess of the verges. Some people say the place is so untidy that it's begun to look like a tip. On my lane, they have dug up the verge three times in the last year."

"A lot of people get really steamed up about them. But it's very delicate. Everyone feels there should be some culling, but others say it should be turned into a tourist attraction and that we should attract hunters. Some poaching already goes on."

The boars roam freely in family groups called sounders across the whole forest, staying in one place for a few days before moving on again, according to the FC, but have been invading communities more frequently. "Adult male boars can move rapidly between eight to nine miles in one night. There are many reasons why boars have been more prevalent in the communities this autumn and winter. These include the lack of beechnuts and acorns caused by the very wet summer and a general increase in the size of the population," Stannard told the councillors.

Council chairman Norman Stephens said: "A lot of people I speak to are sick and tired of the boars. You have only got to drive around to see the damage they do. There are a lot of people who would like to see a stronger cull."

Scott Passmore, co-founder of the UK Wild Boar Trust, based in the Forest of Dean, said he did not support a cull but was prepared to provide advice to the commission. "We want to ensure it's done on as accurate an estimation of the population as possible. It's always this time of year when people call for the boars to be controlled because the roadsides are messy. It might look bad to some people, but as soon as the weather improves it will get better. The grass just isn't growing over at the moment.

"We are aware that rooting done by the wild boars can be a controversial subject and will attract a wide range of opinions, from being great for the richness of the soil to being an unsightly mess. We maintain that 99% of any effects from wild boar rooting is temporary and the ground will usually repair itself, though in some cases it may need a little help just by turning the turf back over."

Plants in the vicinity will grow back the following year much stronger, said Passmore: "In fact, it isn't very different to digging a flower bed in a garden, and regularly turning the soil to enrich the area."

The boars are thought to have been illegally reintroduced to the forest around 2004. A few animals had earlier escaped from a nearby wild boar farm and are believed to have met others which had been dumped in the forest. Wild boars have no natural predators in the UK and females can give birth to eight to 14 piglets a year in two litters.
Hundreds of wild boars face cull in Forest of Dean
Grand National protesters accuse Channel 4 of exploiting deaths of horses
Kenya's Maasai keep lions at bay with solar power and ingenuity
Week-old baby died after being bitten by jack russell, inquest hears
Avian flu: Chinese pigeon fanciers vaccinate tens of thousands of birds
Art Deco among the ducks
The silent socialisers of the insect world
Firefighters tackle blaze at Scottish zoo
Scottish zoo fire leaves animals and reptiles dead
Upon the Yare three grebe pairs were all in display
Chinese vessel on Philippine coral reef caught with illegal pangolin meat
Stricken seabirds wash up along south coast of England
Circuses to be banned from using wild animals
Demand for lion bones offers South African breeders a lucrative return
Edinburgh zoo pandas 'ready to mate'
Humans that harm animals should be held accountable
Today the brimstones are out, careering up and down the rides
English farmers to be reimbursed for sheep killed in snowstorms
Rhino heads seized in gang raid on Ireland's national museum
On this bright morning, the redwing are looking particularly smart
The Chinese sanctuary with pandas at play
Australia's koala crisis
Edinburgh's female panda artificially inseminated
Scientists attack government climbdown on marine protection
French fisherman survives crocodile attack in Australia
Oxford college under attack over plans to display live shark at ball
Wood anemones bewitched by the wind
Shark's off at Oxford black-tie ball
Appetite for caviar could see paddlefish suffer sturgeon's fate
One day last week something other than water came out of the fountain
China loves pork too much
New to Nature No 100: Eleodes wheeleri
Bollywood actors charged in poaching case
Salisbury travel tips: great bustard birdwatching on the plain
Farewell to Nick Boing, Wales's very own superstar sheep
South African minister backs legalisation of rhino horn trade
Cold spring kills thousands of newborn lambs
Rolling snowballs the size of tumbledriers down the hill
Ranger corruption 'impeding global fight against poaching'
The grey seal's bewhiskered face bore an expression of pure contentment
A new, ethical way to buy fish from the fisherman
Dangerous dogs policy in the wake of the terrible death of Jade Anderson
Red squirrels are intensely curious creatures, and extraordinarily pretty
Freezing weather brings fresh perils for British wildlife
Paparazzi reception for an elusive star of the natural world the otter
Eating fish: it's complicated
Do you think the Grand National is cruel?
Cod and chips could be a load of pollock
Farmers call for help over mounting sheep deaths
Chinese fishing fleet in African waters reports 9% of catch to UN
South African game reserve poisons rhino's horns to prevent poaching
Cats leave their mark on centuries of books
Visit Statistics