What threat do feral wild boar pose to the pedigree bloodlines of British pig herds? Quite a substantial one, if the experience of one farmer in the South East is anything to go by.
Jenny Farrant farms on the Kent-Sussex border, in the heart of one of the UK?s strongholds for wild boar, and recently reported to Shooting Times the happy news of the birth of a litter of wild boar crossed with one of her kunekune sows. Mrs Farrant, who also runs a visitor attraction and children?s farm near Rye, told ST the news for them was great: ?We?re delighted as it makes for a great story to tell people on the tractor rides. We now have eight wild boar piglets, which are nearly a month old, and they do look exactly like wild boar piglets.?
Despite her own delight at a litter of wild boar crosses, Mrs Farrant identified a wider problem: ?There is a very serious side to this as well. This sort of cross-breeding is going to happen more and more with wild boar running around the country. This is a serious issue if you?re farming a pedigree herd of pigs. I know that there are other instances of this happening ? we?ve got some 400 boar roaming in our part of the country. They are truly indigenous now.?
In late 2005, the increasing concern over the possibility of such threats to biosecurity prompted DEFRA to conduct a consultation into a strategy for managing wild boar. The consultation revealed that nearly 80 per cent of the respondents thought there should be some form of active management of feral boar populations, with 43.9 per cent supporting total eradication.
At the time the consultation closed, in January 2006, DEFRA stated it would be publishing its future policy on wild boar some time later that year. It has yet to be published. A spokeswoman for DEFRA told ST: ?The responses document was published following the consultation, but in terms of a concerted policy, you?ll understand we have to deal with a wide range of issues here at DEFRA. At this point, a finished response on a strategy is still in the process of production, and I can?t give a date for that, I?m afraid.?