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 Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 09:53

Wild boar were numerous and widespread through the British Isles in Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman, Saxon, and early medieval times, but then became extinct sometime before the 17th century (most sources say they became extinct, at least in England, in the 13th or 14th centuries, though I'm not convinced). But from the the mid 1980s onwards, a few accidental escapes from farms where they were being raised as an exotic meat animal, have led to the establishment of sustainable wild populations in Sussex/Kent, the Forest of Dean, and in Devon/Dorset. There are now several thousand animals living wild in England/Wales, and I think there’s also a population in Tayside Scotland. But why have they managed to re-colonise modern Britain so easily when they failed to hold their own in late medieval times. And unlike say the wolf, wild boar were given quite a lot of encouragement. James I released animals from France and later from Germany into Windsor Park in 1608 and 1611 respectively, and Charles I tried to re-introduce German boar into the New Forest in the 1630s. There were similar attempts by several other landowners throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. All these endeavours failed.

I also question the usual dating of their extinction. The annual provision of meat for Henry VIII’s court (1529/30) stood at 1,240 oxen, 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer, 760 calves, 1,870 pigs and 53 wild boar. Where did these boar come from: were they all imported from the continent, or were they maintained in English game reserves? Similarly Henry’s household accounts include entries for a payment to a servant of the Lord Chamberlain of 40s "in rewarde for bringing a wylde bore unto the king" (24 Nov 1529), and on the last day of December of the same year another 40s was paid, to another (or the same) servant of the Lord Chamberlain, for the same service. Similarly a servant of "Maister Tresorer" received 4s 8d on 18 December 1531, "for bringing a wylde bore’s head to the king". These one-off payments rather suggest that they were for genuine hunted wild boar, rather than from semi-wild enclosed stock. Although of course it should be noted that wild boar are the same species as the domestic pig and can readily inter-breed. Today a lot of meat sold as 'wild boar' in England is actually from wild boar/domestic pig crosses, and in Tudor times domestic pigs were little improved over the wild stock, probably resembling something like the Tamworth breed and so not greatly different from their wild cousins. The issue is also not helped by the English term "boar" to mean the wild creature as well as the male of the domestic animal.

So why and how did wild boar become extinct in a largely rural England, with a population of a just a few million humans and still with large tracts of forest .... when they can thrive in a modern country, criss-crossed with roads, railways and massive urban development, and in competition with a human population ten times greater than it was in the 16th century?


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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 10:57

The Feudal system and its implications for land use probably heralded the native boar's ultimate death knell in Britain. The 13th century as an estimate for its demise was proposed by Derek Yalden whose authority in the field of native ungulates is generally respected, though I notice that Yalden, when quoted directly, is careful to use the term "extirpated" rather than "extinct" in the case of Sus Scrofa. Yalden maintained that the boar's two principal habitats of preference in Britain - tidal marshland and mountainous regions below the snow line - were not only drastically diminished in area with the proliferation of drainage and parcelled farmland in post-conquest England but also rapidly became increasingly shrinking island habitats separated by increasingly greater hostile environments through which struggling local populations of boars might dare trespass to increase their breeding potential and the availability of food.

A species already endangered through hunting became doubly endangered therefore as its breeding and foraging capabilities diminished. Documentary and anecdotal records from the period become concentrated towards the end in Welsh mountainous regions and Scotland, supporting the theory that this is what occurred, and also hinting at the date of their extirpation. In few and isolated pockets they were protected through human management, but even there this management was not geared towards maintaining populations of a size enough to provide sufficiently healthy breeding conditions for renewal of the population (they were only being protected so they could be hunted), so in fact these boar populations were effectively even more doomed through this intervention than their feral counterparts, being forcibly prevented the option even of attempted relocation and amalgamation with others in the same boat to improve their chances. Attempts to increase populations, when they did finally occur, were almost exclusively through importation of continental breeds, which in terms of Sus Scrofa Britannus's survival was merely the final nail in the coffin.

Or at least that's what Yalden says.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 14:11

According to this BBC article, it was hunting that did for the wild boar.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-20755147

As mentioned in the link, animal activists in 2005 set free over a hundred wild boar from a farm in North Devon. Only about forty were ever recaptured. The South Molton Six-ty, as they were known locally, were sighted all over the place, and we were warned - should a wild boar be spotted snuffling about in our shrubberies or on our lawns - that it was not advisable to approach it, wave our arms about in a discouraging manner, or by any other means try to shoo it away.

Who in their right mind would approach an uppity wild boar in order to persuade it to move on?
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 14:33

The agricultural scene in 13th and 14th century England was dominated by sheep and grain. In the case of the former then boar were likely to be considered a serious pest spreading disease and even killing lambs. In the case of the latter then they would likely be considered a major nuisance by damaging ploughed fields and crops etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 14:42

@Temperance wrote:

Who in their right mind would approach an uppity wild boar in order to persuade it to move on?

.... err me? I regularly get wild boar in the garden especially between October and March when they are mostly gangs of young males, sometimes a dozen or so, who have been turfed out of the matriarchal family group (dad left long ago, but mum keeps her daughters with her over winter and well into early summer). They are not generally dangerous at all ... they're wary and cautious, and sometimes quite inquisitive too, but never aggressive. Each is only about the size of a collie dog and they scamper away very quickly when I catch them digging up the lawn and so give a shout or clap my hands. Although my pooch, Doggy-Dog, Mr Courageous, is not particularly brave, and so if he encounters them on his regular evening snuffle-about, he usually comes straight back into the house and promptly tries to hide under the table.

However I have occasionally encountered bigger beasts. I was once patching-up potholes in my driveway when I could see, by the thrashing of the bushes, that something big was coming down the hill. A big boar broke cover into my drive about 20m away and came hurtling towards me. (In his/her defence, he/she had been flushed out of cover by some hunters' dogs). I stood ready with my spade, but the boar took just one glance at me and then veered off down the fork towards the neighbours' house. Unlike deer, boar are not generally very good at jumping but this one took the neighbours' half metre high fence at a running leap, charged across their back lawn, ducked under the washing line, and then headed off down towards the river. It was a good deal longer, bigger and stockier than my 35kg golden retriever - I reckon it was about 80kg in weight - but frankly I think it was more afraid of me, than I was of it. Despite what the Daily Wail might say they are not monsters ... and besides I'm living in their territory rather than visa versa.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 16:10

Would "Venus and Adonis" have been a choice topic for a poem in Shakespeare's time if the wild boar were a memory dating back the best part of a century at least? I wonder.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 16:34

Here is an extract from the poem. Adonis is warned of the ferocity of the boar he is determined to hunt:



'Thou hadst been gone,' quoth she, 'sweet boy, ere this,
But that thou told'st me thou wouldst hunt the boar.
O, be advised! thou know'st not what it is
With javelin's point a churlish swine to gore,
Whose tushes never sheathed he whetteth still,
Like to a mortal butcher bent to kill.

'On his bow-back he hath a battle set
Of bristly pikes, that ever threat his foes;
His eyes, like glow-worms, shine when he doth fret;
His snout digs sepulchres where'er he goes;
Being moved, he strikes whate'er is in his way,
And whom he strikes his cruel tushes slay.

'His brawny sides, with hairy bristles arm'd,
Are better proof than thy spear's point can enter;
His short thick neck cannot be easily harm'd;
Being ireful, on the lion he will venture...



  Death of Adonis by Giuseppe Mazzuoli


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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 17:04

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Would "Venus and Adonis" have been a choice topic for a poem in Shakespeare's time if the wild boar were a memory dating back the best part of a century at least? I wonder.

But it wasn't a distant memory at that point, not by a long shot. Boar, by no means common, was still however the ultimate on Christmas wish-lists as a centrepiece in the main communal meal of the holiday right up to Stuart times in England. How British any boar might have been by that stage however is a very moot point indeed.

In any case Shakespeare was simply writing his version of Golding's earlier poem, which in itself had been cogged from Ovid's "Metamorphoses", in which both had enough mention of boar to figure on Obelix's kitchen bookshelf. And anyway, his "Rape of Lucrece" written in the same year (1594) mentions tigers, lions and unicorns - all three of which were pretty extinct in England in Willie's day, I reckon.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 13 Mar 2016, 17:16

It's a good point Gil .... but I'm not convinced. For example are we modern Britons/Europeans not able to relate to say, the Blitz, or to the horrors of the WW1 trenches .... without our having actually experienced them at first hand?

And remember that boar/human encounters were well established as the stuff of legend, story, literature, fairy-tale, sermon, parable, symbolism and heraldry ... since at least the days of Odysseus and the Erymanthian Boar. London-based, well-read, educated, classically-trained, Elizabethan audiences would have understood all the classical references and allusions, or at least pretended that they did ...  despite probably never having encountered anything more dangerous than a domestic pig that was once accidentally loose in Smithfield market.

EDIT : Crossed posts with Nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Mon 14 Mar 2016, 10:27

This hardly counts as evidence of the wild boar's persistence beyond the 13th century, but as Queen's College Oxford wasn't founded until 1341, its traditional Boar's Head Gaudy sung at its traditional Boar's Head Feast at yuletide points at least to a strong desire to believe that the danger of the marauding Sus Scrofa had persisted a few centuries longer in English consciousness.


15th century English depiction of a boar's head feast

As recounted in 1868 by the Librarian to the college's Sacred Harmonic Society, William Henry Husk, in his "Songs of the Nativity Being Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern":

"Where an amusing tradition formerly current in Oxford concerning the boar's head custom, which represented that usage as a commemoration of an act of valour performed by a student of the college, who, while walking in the neighbouring forest of Shotover and reading Aristotle, was suddenly attacked by a wild boar. The furious beast came open-mouthed upon the youth, who, however, very courageously, and with a happy presence of mind, thrust the volume he was reading down the boar's throat, crying, "Græcum est," and fairly choked the savage with the sage."

A lovely tale of the power of philosophy too, by the way.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Mon 14 Mar 2016, 12:38

There is a Wild Boar site for general interest;

British Wild Boar

from the above:
Boars or Badgers ??
"Discovering how wild boar and badgers Meles meles co-exist would be of particular interest. Both animals have a similar diet, are opportunistic, omnivorous, root through leaf litter and are predominantly nocturnal. They share one other trait of importance to the agricultural industry, namely, that both carry bovine tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis."
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 16 Mar 2016, 17:57

Not relevant to the actual OP, but perhaps two boar facts from history may be of interest.

Pope Leo X was an avid hunter of boars and this passion of his crept into the wording of his "Exsurge Domine"  - the Bull excommunicating Martin Luther, issued on June 15th, 1520:


Bull of Pope Leo X issued June 15, 1520

Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.


Henry VIII was also a keen hunter of the boar and Anne Boleyn's 1532 New Year's gift to her royal lover was "an exotic set of richly decorated Pyrenean boar spears".

Not sure how boar spears would differ from the ordinary weapon?


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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 16 Mar 2016, 18:03

Boar spears have two prominent transverse arms just below the spear head ... it's to stop the boar, once impaled, from pushing up the spear towards his adversary. Boars are formidable beasts even in death.

Like this:



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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 16 Mar 2016, 18:06

Boar spears have "wings" behind the point. Otherwise, the boar can work its way up the shaft to attack the hunter. Don't think pig-sticking spears had these, but it was a popular sport cum training exercise for British cavalry officers in India.


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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 16 Mar 2016, 18:18

@Meles meles wrote:
Boar spears have two prominent transverse arms just below the spear head ... it's to stop the boar, once impaled, from pushing up the spear towards his adversary. Boars are formidable beasts even in death.

Like this:

Bear spears were similar, but longer, stronger, and heavier. Both could be used against cavalry
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 16 Mar 2016, 18:39

The whole thing about medieval boar hunting - in contrast too pig-sticking - was that they were traditionally hunted on foot. The role of the accompanying dogs was not to hound and tire the boar, but to corner it and then flush it out on command. This was firstly because the season for boar hunting was late Autumn/Winter when boar were then at their fattest, the young were no longer dependent on their mothers, and the big prize males were then solitary. It was considered dangerous to hunt on horseback in Winter because of the risk of snow balling up under the horses hooves, and anyway boar in Europe were primarily creatures of thick forest so again they were not really suitable for being chased on horseback. Also boar are very low-slung animals, with most of their muscle in the shoulders/fore-quarters. They are sprinters but not runners, and so they were hunted by being cornered ... then, the boar having no other option, would eventually break cover and charge directly at his adversary. The hide is thick and so arrows or crossbow bolts were fairly ineffective. Hence the preferred weapon was a stout spear, but the hunter had to be kneeling, with the spear firmly braced into the ground to take the impact of a couple of hundred-weight, or more, of angry boar coming at 10-15mph. Hence why boar hunting was seen as very macho and not for the faint-hearted.

PS : My pic above was of a rather effete, modern replica of a boar spear .... here's the proper thing: an early 15th century German spear, made specifically for hunting boar ... note how long the blade is, and how solid the whole head and side wings are.

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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 17 Mar 2016, 08:11

MM wrote:
Hence the preferred weapon was a stout spear, but the hunter had to be kneeling, with the spear firmly braced into the ground to take the impact of a couple of hundred-weight, or more, of angry boar coming at 10-15mph. Hence why boar hunting was seen as very macho and not for the faint-hearted.



I suppose, then, that boar hunting - unlike deer-hunting and hawking - was not a sport in which the ladies actually took part? Elizaabeth I prided herself on her ability to shoot deer with the crossbow, but wild boar were obviously something else! The female role in the boar hunt - if they were ever allowed to accompany the men on such dangerous expeditions - must have been simply to watch from a (very) safe distance and admire the prowess of the men. One could, after all, look very elegant seated on horseback holding a magnificent, completely obedient bird of prey (see image below); elegance while tackling a boar would be quite impossible!

Here's a picture of Diana the Huntress, looking very lovely:





And Elizabeth I was painted (by Cornelius Vroom) as Diana - doesn't look at all like our slender Liz - those brawny shoulders! She looks like an Olympic swimmer.





PS Have posted three images in all - do hope they have "taken" and you can see them.

PPS MM This is off-topic a bit - hope you don't mind. T.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sat 16 Apr 2016, 17:32

@Temperance wrote:

Henry VIII was also a keen hunter of the boar and Anne Boleyn's 1532 New Year's gift to her royal lover was "an exotic set of richly decorated Pyrenean boar spears".


And at about the same time Henry sent to Anne some venison that he'd hunted, with the daring note that he sent "some flesh, representing my name, which is hart's flesh, for Henry, prognosticating that hereafter you must enjoy some of mine."

When a-wooing, sending a haunch of bloody flesh certainly beats a gift of flowers, chocolates, perfume or jewellery!


But going back to boars ... while I concede that expert opinion says they were hunted to extinction, I'm still not convinced. However I wonder if there wasn't another factor: domestication. Wild boar are naturally fairly social animals and are reasonably amenable to being kept in groups in enclosures (they can be farmed after all). The females naturally form ladies-only groups of mums and daughters, while the young males form batcheler gangs, and only go off as individuals when they are fully adult. The dometicated pigs of late medieval and Tudor England were not that much improved over the wild stock, being bristly, razor-backed beasts, with a long head, a comparatively narrow body and with lean, fairly dark flesh ... at best probably something like the Tamworth breed.

Given that pigs were often fattened up on acorns and beech-mast in the forests, I wouldn't be surprised if young wild boar were not sometimes rounded up with the domestic animals, whether by accident or design ...  as a pig, even a rangy-looking wild one, would be very valuable. Wild boar and domestic pigs readily interbreed (most boar on modern UK boar farms are cross-breeds) so I wonder if the wild boar stock in England wasn't so much hunted to extinction, but gradually rounded up and enclosed, and so the wild genetic stock was eliminated by simply being absorbed into the domestic stock. The king might try and preserve the wild stock for hunting with draconian forest laws, but such legislation would be difficult to enforce when nearly every country family kept a pig or two and often had the right of pannage; the legal right to let their pigs fatten up in the forests, where they would inevitably mingle with any remaining wild animals, before they were all rounded up together in late Autumn, and duly turned into bacon.


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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sat 16 Apr 2016, 18:17

That sounds quite feasible, MM, and could produce a similar situation to that now with our Scottish wild cats where very few of the wild stock are genetically pure because of interbreeding with domestic and feral moggies. There must have come a point where the diminishing numbers of 'wild' boar (male and female) were increasingly products of interbreeding until the wild and domesticated became indistinguishable, especially if the pure boars were being preferentially removed by hunting.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 20 Apr 2016, 15:06

There was a nature programme on BBC4 last night in which one of the animals featured was the Falklands Island wolf, or Warrah

The warrah was in declining numbers when Darwin visited the islands and was extinct by 1876.

Falkland Wolf

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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 20 Apr 2016, 15:34

@ferval wrote:
That sounds quite feasible, MM, and could produce a similar situation to that now with our Scottish wild cats where very few of the wild stock are genetically pure because of interbreeding with domestic and feral moggies. There must have come a point where the diminishing numbers of 'wild' boar (male and female) were increasingly products of interbreeding until the wild and domesticated became indistinguishable, especially if the pure boars were being preferentially removed by hunting.
Similar problem with polecats - a lot of ferret genes in them now.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 26 May 2016, 09:39

I've just been reading some articles (nothing academic, just Guardian stuff) but it seems that old bête noir, climate change, has had a role in the changing fortunes of the bêtes noirs.

In northern France, Belgium, Germany etc, where the winters still have long cold periods, the survival rates for young piglets is much lower than the recorded rate for English boar currently living in the Forest of Dean. Moreover while european boar usually only produce a single litter each year, some English boar have been recorded as producing two litters in some recent years. Overall current British boar seem to have about twice the breeding/survival rate of north European boar. 

In Britain the wild boar population decline coincided with the onset of the late medieval mini ice age, but now, with global warming, the boar breeding rate has effectively doubled, with twice as many piglets surviving their first year or two, to in turn get to breeding age. It also accounts for the explosion in the boar population in most of France, where again increased breeding success means that the boar population, which had been stable over many decades, but is now outstripping all predation whether by wolves, lynx, hunters ... or road traffic.


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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 26 May 2016, 10:28

There are proposals to bring wolves back:

Reintroduction of Wolves to Scotland
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 26 May 2016, 12:03

@Triceratops wrote:
There are proposals to bring wolves back:

Reintroduction of Wolves to Scotland


First traces and within the last couple of years a number of wolves have been observed in Denmark, thought to have roamed up from Germany and perhaps Poland. Whether enough to breed is so far uncertain.

The previous stock of native wolves were thought to be extinct - shot - at about 1813.



Opinions vary on whether this is a good thing for nature or a bad thing for farmers.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 26 May 2016, 14:35

Makes thing interesting, Neilsen

A smaller predator is helping to save the Red Squirrel;

Pine Martens hunt Greys
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 28 Jul 2016, 09:48

Northumberland and the Borders are the preferred site for the reintroduction of Lynx:

Kielder Lynx



Lynx Trust
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 28 Jul 2016, 11:37

There's a family of ostriches on the loose in Ayrshire, somewhere near Patna, people have been warned to stay clear. No-one knows where they came from but there's plenty of wild life of the human variety in those old mining vilages. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/27/ostriches-on-the-loose-in-scottish-village-patna
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 28 Jul 2016, 14:22

Going by the RSPB website, there are 8,600 breeding pairs of wild Parakeets living in and around London;

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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Thu 28 Jul 2016, 14:44

I'm not at all surprised ... as long ago as the late 1990s, when I lived in Epsom, huge flocks of parakeets were a regular, and noisy, occurrence every evening as they headed back to their communal roosts on Epsom Common, Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park, Bushey Park, Epsom and Sandown Racecourses, and Hampton Court.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sat 01 Oct 2016, 12:16

Well whatever the reason wild boar became exinct in Britain, they seem to be doing very well here. Two nights ago they were in the garden and dug up a big patch of lawn. Yesterday I carefully rolled all the divots back as best I could and as it was hot put the sprinkler on it for a bit. Lo and behold this morning they've completely dug it all up again!

And they seem to be getting very bold. This was taken a couple of weeks ago at Cerbère, the last coastal town on French side of the border, just down coast from me. Although it has been unseasonably warm of late, the days are definitely getting shorter, and so only the really hard-hearted would complain about a mother taking her kiddies down to the beach to enjoy a few last days of summer sun.


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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Sun 02 Oct 2016, 21:38

MM, I note you mentioned about escaped wild boar living "wild" in Britain in modern times.  The linked article refers.  There is a quote in the article from somewhere else so the Daily Wail can't be blamed in this instance where the word 'Swedish' is printed as 'Sweedish'!
Code:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2904376/Wild-Boar-Britain-hogs-taking-countryside-population-explodes.html


Last edited by LadyinRetirement on Sun 02 Oct 2016, 21:41; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Edited because I read the original post more attentively and noticed I'd mentioned something which had already been referenced.)
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 07:35

MM wrote:
And they seem to be getting very bold.


Seems they are here, too. There has just been a piece on BBC Breakfast about wild boar causing problems in the Forest of Dean. The Forestry Commission is organising a cull.

Lot of argument about this, apparently. People are complaining the animals in that area are running amok and digging up lawns. I'd be more worried about children being attacked - but is this likely? Are these creatures actually quite reasonable - friendly even - if left alone, as MM's beach picture would suggest? What about the adolescent/adult males? I should not like to encounter an uppity male boar in my shrubbery (and Bosworth would not be best pleased either).


Last edited by Temperance on Tue 18 Oct 2016, 08:43; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Yet another grammatical error - put a plural verb for a singular subject.)
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 09:13

They were snuffling around in my shrubbery last night, and digging up the lawn, yet again. And Doggy-Dog wasn't pleased at all ... he came straight back inside and hid under the table!



I think at the moment they are mostly small groups (maybe half a dozen) of young males who have just been abandoned by their mum's to fend for themselves. They really are quite gormless, inquisitive, but cautious and not at all agressive. The one I've got in the freezer (donated by the hunter's last week) was only just over 2 feet from nose to tail. But they can do a lot of damage. Agriculture around here is mostly growing vines and fruit trees ... and even the biggest boar can't overturn a mature apple tree. But they tend to use trees as scratching posts and can kill trees by ring-barking them with their back-scratching. They are of more concern if they get into cornfields (not many here) or into vegetable gardens ... which is why even the smallest veg' plot needs a fence around it, or be located close to the house (as mine is). And of course they can make a right mess of lawns and pasture.

They can also cause a lot of expensive damage if you hit one with your car (I always warn people driving the 2km back from the village at night to drive very slowly, although the lane is quite narrow so it's actually impossible to drive fast). Driving down the lane at night is actually about the only time I see boar - although I often hear them around the garden if I go out after it's got dark. They are quite shy really and don't willingly approach people ... but I gather that isn't so in the Forest of Dean. England's wild boar are mostly descended from farmed escapees, and so genetically there is probably quite a bit of domestic pig in them. I wonder if that hasn't made them less noctural as well as less wary of humans ... and doubtless there are some wallies thay actually try to feed them too.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 11:46

This  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-9fyfc5 suggests that the Forest of Dean boar are proving unusually prolific in numbers farrowed, and that the farmed origin of the current stock may be partly  causal. I suppose that normal farming selection of the most prolific strains could be the reason for this, without needing there to have been any introduction of modern breed genes, though the possibility cannot, IMO, be discounted, possibly by crossing "iron age" pigs, like "Sundance" of the Tamworth Two with farmed boar. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamworth_Two
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 12:00

As I understand it, most British farmed wild boar (ie for meat) is nowadays usually from wild boar which have been deliberately crossed with domestic breeds because of the bigger litter sizes and also because you get more meat, while still retaining the low-fat dark meat characteristics of true wild boar. British farmers and butchers however rarely seem to admit to what degree their premium-priced product is wild boar, and how much is just pissed-off porker.


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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 12:02

With reference to ferval's mention of Scottish wildcats and Trike's links regarding the rewilding of Britain with the re-introduction of wolves and lynx - one wonders what exactly the beasts of Bodmin etc do for a living:



It's difficult to know which species would be the most efficient in terms of keeping boar numbers stable. A lynx on its own can bring down a boar but not without risk. Besides, how much appetite would a lynx (even with cubs) have for such thick-hided tuff prey when much easier pickings such as deer and sheep are available? On the other hand (and despite the boar's fearsome reputation) a few as 2 wolves working together are known to be able to bring down an adult male. A sow with piglets in tow, of course, might present another case. And the same question remains for wolves with regard to the availability of easier prey.

Although wolves are said to have become extinct in Britain in the 17th century and in Ireland in the 18th century, there is less certainty regarding lynx. Suggestions for when they disappeared vary from between 1000 years ago to 1500 years ago. They do, however, seem to be noticeable by their absence from Gaelic, Welsh and Old English literature. Can anyone throw more light on this?
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 12:10

@Meles meles wrote:
As I understand it, most British farmed wild boar (ie for meat) is nowadays usually from wild boar which have been deliberately crossed with domestic breeds because of the bigger litter sizes and also because you get more meat, while still retaining the low-fat dark meat characteristics of true wild boar. British farmers and butchers however rarely seem to admit to what degree their premium-priced product is wild boar, and how much is just pissed-off porker.
Just so. The "Aberdeen Angus" steaks sold at premium prices are most often from meatier continental breed dams such as Limousin and Charollais which have been AId with Aberdeen Angus semen, and reputedly often with the Murray Grey, so only 1/8th Aberdeen Angus, genetically.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 18 Oct 2016, 12:30

There are lynx in the woods around me and about twenty of so wolves in two separate family groups (packs if you prefer the more emotive term) up in the high mountains, the other side of Canigou, so about 20-30 miles away as the eagle flies. The wolves seem to stay well up in the mountains but the occasional lynx has been spotted not far from isolated houses - my neighbours saw one crossing the track to their house.

A lynx would not usually tackle a boar unless it was a small young one, like those that are currently bimbling around my garden at night. A lynx wouldn't be able to tackle a mature red deer. They mostly go for roe deer, hares, squirrels, and birds. The neighbours keep chickens but have never had a problem, although of course they lock their hens up at night because there are foxes, martens and badgers around too. Lynx very rarely seem to venture out of deep forest cover. The mayor of our village has 500 head of sheep ranging around the open hillside but these are guarded with a couple of big Pyrenean mountain dogs who live permanently with the flock. He's never lost a sheep or even a lamb to lynx (or wolves for that matter), but he has lost several sheep to dogs being exercised off-lead. A group of wolves could tackle a mature boar, and an individual wolf could easily take a young piglet, but again the wolves seem to stick high up in the sparsely-wooded or bare mountains, while the boar remain in the thick deciduous forests lower down. I expect they rarely meet. The wolves here probably hunt deer and chamois, but I imagine for much of the time they're eating little more than mountain hares and marmots ... and carrion of course, though they're in competition with the griffon vultures for that source of protein.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Wed 19 Oct 2016, 09:11

Meanwhile in Edinburgh;

Rare white squirrels
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 29 Nov 2016, 15:20

UK's first formal reintroduction of a once native species of mammal.

Guardian : Beavers given native species status after reintroduction to Scotland

But what I don't understand are all these unofficial releases that have been occurring over the past few years,  as the article says: "... dozens of European beavers have been illegally and stealthily released in the Highlands". Who's been doing it and why? Are they a group called something like 'Friends of the Beaver", or is there more to it?

I can imagine men nonchalantly ambling along a river bank at dusk, occasionally casting a glance left and right then surreptitiously shaking their excessively wide trouser legs followed by a little sideways kick, a squeak, and a small splash. But wherever does one even obtain an illegal beaver? Round the back of the pub like all other shady stuff? ... "Psst! Oi mate,  you interested in some dodgey wildlife ... I got some lovely beav', errr,  semi-aquatic rodents, in my van here?". And how do you smuggle a beaver into the country? Via the ferry from Stavanger, hidden in the car-boot under boxes of garish scandinavian knitware, and with the smell masked by smoked-fish products? It seems we do indeed need to regain control of our frontiers!
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 29 Nov 2016, 15:47

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKAqmqVQ700

They hide them in Uncle Albert's beard.
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 29 Nov 2016, 16:34

Here's your answer, MM. The Beaver Liberation Front. Yes they really exist and presumably spend their time fighting The Front for the Liberation of Beavers.

http://beaverliberationfront.yolasite.com/
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PostSubject: Re: Wild boar in Britain - when and how did they go extinct?   Tue 29 Nov 2016, 21:53

The white wolf back in Belgium in over a hundred years
http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2011/09/first-wolf-spotted-in-belgium-in-over.html


Kind regards, Paul.
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