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Wild boar shooting in the UK

Escaped or released wild boar are becoming increasingly prevalent, advises Tony Jackson

Wild boar, Sus scrofa, in the Forest of Dean

Wild boar, Sus scrofa, in the Forest of Dean

Wild boar shooting in the UK is permitted as boar are legal quarry and currently have no close season — they are not protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and can be hunted year round.

However it is probably time to think of introducing a close season for pregnant and lactating sows. Killing a sow with small, dependent young that will starve to death is the very opposite of good sportsmanship and humanity.

Today the largest population of wild boar thrives in the Forest of Dean where there are well over 1,000 of them. They originate from a number that escaped from a farm near Ross-on-Wye in the 1990s and were supplemented by 60 animals which were dumped on the western edge of the Forest above the Wye valley. The two groups merged and, despite Forestry Commission culls, the estimate for the area for the period 2016–2017 is 1,562 wild boar. The Woodland Trust estimates that 2,600 animals are now living wild in several breeding populations around the UK. 

The species is prospering, with no natural predators.

Wild boar shooting

If a firearms certificate carries the caveat “any legal quarry”, the holder has liberty to shoot a wild boar. If not, a condition to shoot boar must be added to an FAC by the police. Permission to hunt for boar must be given by the landowner.

Calibres for wild boar

As far as rifles are concerned, the minimum calibre recommended is .270 and 160-gr bullet. Unlike a deer, the heart and lungs of a wild boar are small and set low down and forward in the ribcage. Head shots should be avoided as the skull is dense and the brain area relatively small.

Wild boar rooting

Evidence of wild boar rooting activity –

Are wild boar dangerous?

Boar usually vanish whenever they sense a human presence so it is unlikely for an human to come under attack. However, dogs are a different matter. A sow with young can be aggressive in the presence of dogs and there have been several recorded attacks, including an unfortunate man who had the tip of his finger bitten off.

What is wild boar meat like?

Boar meat tastes very like pork, which is hardly surprising as boars are wild pig. It is delicious cooked in a variety of ways and you can find a wild boar recipe here.

Recipes for wild boar

Venison and wild boar koftas

Wild boar facts

  • The Latin for wild boar is Sus scrofa
  • Shy and elusive, wild boar prefer to live in groups (sounders) of no more than 20 and are largely nocturnal.
  • They have a wide-ranging diet, a characteristic that aids their survival across varying habitat.
  • Though they consume mostly vegetable matter, they will also eat worms, insects, eggs, carrion, and even small mammals and birds.
  • In its natural environment, Sus scrofa has an average life expectancy of 10 years.
  • Standing 1m-high at the shoulder, weighing more than 200kg and being armed with 6in-long self-sharpening tusks, a fully grown male boar makes a formidable and intimidating spectacle.
  •  Wild boars avoid contact with humans whenever possible, making physical conflict rare.
  • Boar have a taste for the eggs of ground-nesting birds; something that may jeopardise endangered avian species.
  • A certificate to shoot wild boar is only granted for .308 .270 and 30/06 calibre weapons.
  • However, if you intend to use 12-bore solid-slug shotgun ammunition this also has to be on your firearms certificate.