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Advice and legislation relating to the management and control of wild boar.


Wild boar

Advice and legislation relating to the management and control of wild boar. Wild boar

Wild boar action plan

Defra policy is that primary responsibility for feral wild boar management lies with local communities and individual landowners. However, Government will help facilitate this regional management through the provision of advice and guidance.

On 19 February 2008 Defra published its Wild boar action plan: (906kb)pdf document outlining the government’s responsibilities in the management of feral wild boar in England.

 Indicative distribution of wild boar in England based on data compiled for the Defra consultation and Wildlife Management Team monitoring data

Best practice guidance

Part of the Defra Action Plan concerned the provision of authoritative advice on wild boar and their management. The Deer Initiative, in collaboration with Natural England and other partners, has developed a series of Best Practice guides covering:

  • Biology and behaviour
  • Management
  • Fencing
  • Shooting
  • Carcass handling
  • Legislation

These are available to download on Wild Boar best practice guides websiteexternal link.

Current status

There are three well-established feral breeding populations; the largest, in Kent/Sussex was estimated in 2004 at approximately 200 animals in the core distribution area, the second largest in the Forest of Dean/Ross on Wye area, where there is probably in excess of 100 animals, and the smallest, in west Dorset, where there are still believed to be fewer than 50 animals. Following escapes in winter 2005/6 animals were reported in areas around the fringes of Dartmoor and evidence of breeding in the wild has been recorded (Natural England data). In some of these areas it appears that animals are no longer present, but there is still at least one population in Devon with perhaps around 50 animals. In addition, there were further release incidents in Devon in 2007 and some of these may also still be present in the wild. The English feral wild boar population is estimated at probably no more than around 500 in the established populations, and almost certainly fewer than 1000 in total.

What should I do if I see wild boar?

Wild boar are normally secretive and nocturnal if they are not interfered with and there are very few documented cases of boar attacking people in Europe or elsewhere. There have been some reports of wild boar in this country appearing not to show any fear of people. It is suspected that some of these may be recently escaped or released animals. The following advice and guidance is offered to those who may encounter wild boar whilst out walking in the countryside:

  • If walking in an area known or suspected to be occupied by wild boar, dogs should be kept on a lead.

  • Avoid walking through dense undergrowth where wild boar may be encountered at close quarters.

  • If you see wild boar, do not approach them; if possible leave the area by the same route you approached by, or make a detour giving the animals a wide berth.

  • If you see wild boar and you have a dog off the lead, call the dog to heel and put it on a lead immediately.

  • If you have a dog off the lead and it chases wild boar or will not return when called, stay at a safe distance and continue to call the dog back; do not approach the boar.

  • Sows with young piglets are potentially more dangerous than other boar because they may attempt to defend their young. They have a prolonged breeding season but most litters are born in spring. Avoid walking in areas known or suspected to be occupied by wild boar during this period (February to May). In particular, avoid dense woodland or other thick cover as such areas are favoured as resting and breeding sites.

In many cases, if boar are seen from a safe distance, it may be possible to simply wait until they have left the area of their own accord before proceeding.

Public safety is primarily the concern of the Police rather than Natural England. If you are concerned that wild boar are present and a safety hazard in a particular area you should inform the local Police.

What legal restrictions are there on how wild boar can be controlled?

There are no specific legal restrictions governing how wild boar can be controlled. Live-catch cage traps are sometimes used to capture wild boar for research or control purposes. However, the general protection against cruelty afforded by the Animal Welfare Act 2006external link and the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996external link apply. In addition, wild boar are potentially dangerous and difficult to deal with at close quarters so live-trapping is only likely to be appropriate where experienced and trained personnel are involved.

Guidance on legislation, management and control is given in the published Best Practice guidanceexternal link.

Should I report sightings of wild boar?

Natural England Wildlife Management and Licensing aims to monitor the status of the known feral boar populations and any new reports of boar or feral pigs. Reports can be submitted by email wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk or by telephone through the Wildlife Licensing Unit (Tel. 0845 6014523)

For further guidance on reporting a sighting see Exotic mammals. For more information on wild boar please download Natural England's advisory leaflet SIN002 Feral wild boarexternal link which can also be obtained from Wildlife Management and Licensing.

Reporting damage caused by wild boar

Natural England's Wildlife Management and Licensing are interested in recording instances of agricultural damage attributed to wild boar.

To report instances of recent damage, please contact us.

Wild boar public consultation

Defra’s Wild Boar Action Plan followed a public consultation in the latter part of 2005. In the consultation views were invited on the overall strategy that should be adopted for the control or management of wild boar and on other issues relevant to their management. The consultation closed on 6 January 2006. The consultation documents, summary of responses and Action Plan can be viewed below:


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