George Digweed’s boar problem started last autumn but the shooting season put a stop to any control measures. He has tried driving them in the daytime, lamping them at night time and he still hasn’t been able to enjoy that Asterix and Obelix moment of roast wild boar.
Tonight he’s feeling confident. The local gamekeeper has been putting some feed down and the boar have locked on to it. George hopes he will get a chance to pull the trigger on his .308 We are going to try and maximise our chances with some infra red filming. It is nowhere near the class of the night vision we’ve used recently but we’re hoping it’ll give us an edge. What isn’t giving an edge is the electric polaris. Even though it’s in stealth mode, the water logged fields give us away and our first boar doesn’t stay around long enough for us. However, a second is just around the corner and George is quick to get on to it. The boar drops. We hold back and wait, but this pig isn’t going anywhere.
“It is not something I like doing. But I would rather do it than have the cowboys riding around shooting them all up the arse.” comments George as he points to the entry wound in the side of the boar’s head.
George always aims to shoot them in the head or just behind the ear, top of the neck somewhere there and then it guarantees an immediate kill. Heart shots at this time of the night are not a good idea. Boar with heart shots tend to run and in the dark this is problematic. A heart shot during the day is fine because you can track it and find it. But there is no way of tracking during the night. Therefore the instantaneous take down is crucial.
The boar is a young male which is some consolation to the world champion. Incredibly boar don’t have a closed season in the UK. “From the end of this month I wouldn’t want to be shooting sows.” says George “It is an excellent size for the table. It will eat well, make some good sausages as well.” Gerorge explains, making everyone salivate a little. All in all it is an excellent one to take.
The boar fell under an oak tree where much of the damage to the pasture had been concentrated.
There is no doubt about it, boar have got to be controlled. George highlights the damage that the boar are doing to the ground. George demonstrates the depth they are digging with the length of his knife. It is most likely that the boar are looking for acorns from last year. “I like to see them about and I like to think myself as a conservationist, but at the end of the day everything needs to be controlled and we have got to shoot one or two.” explains George.
So a night of success. George feels he’s done his job on behalf of the landowner, whilst ensuring that it was done to the best of his ability. And there are some delicious sausages coming his way.
Why shoot wild boar?
Wild boar were once native to Great Britain but became extinct more than 300 years ago. Following escapes or deliberate releases from wild boar farms from the 1980s, they have now established breeding populations in the wild including Kent and East Sussex in the South-Eats of England, Dorset, Devon and the Forest of Dean in the South-West, and parts of Scotland. DEFRA estimates the current population at around 500 in the established colonies. Local wildlife managers estimate it at nearer 5,000.
Wild boar are omnivorous and approximately 400 species of plants and animals have been reported to be part of their diet. Their habit of rooting through the floor of woodland and pasture leaves a clear indicator of their presence. They will take both eggs and nestlings of ground-nesting birds and can damage crops, gamebird release pens and game feeders. Damage to agriculture can also be extensive and concerns have been raised regarding collisions with traffic. Boar have no natural predators in the UK meaning culls are necessary to control population growth.
Wild boar are susceptible to the same diseases as domestic pigs and therefore have the potential to spread infectious disease such as swine fever, foot & mouth and Aujesky’s disease (Gow, 2002; Natural England, 2007).
To read the DEFRA wild boar action plan, visit BritishPigs.org.uk/feralwildboar.pdf