Scotland’s wild boars killing lambs, claim gamekeepers
WILD boars, which were once extinct in Scotland, have enjoyed such a resurgence that they have become a pest, killing lambs and destroying crops, it has been claimed.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) believes they have become such a nuisance that the government needs to take action.
Boar roamed free in Scotland around 400 years ago before being hunted to extinction.
They were reintroduced to the Highlands in 2009, and seen as a way of cutting back bracken and helping the growth of native trees, including Scots pine, rowan, aspen and juniper, as well as woodland flowers.
However, they have now become a problem for farmers, crofters and land managers, who have reported lambs being killed by the animals.
The wild boar, spotted mostly in Lochaber and Dumfries and Galloway, have either escaped or been freed from farms
where they were being reared for meat. The SGA said that, while some research had shown the best way to deal with the wild boar was to shoot them, farmers wanted the Scottish Government to recommend management techniques, including options such as trapping the animals instead.
While it is not illegal to shoot wild boar, the animals are elusive, nocturnal creatures, meaning humane killing is a skilled and time-consuming task.
Alex Hogg, chairman of the SGA, said: “There are a lot of confusing messages being sent out to people in the Scottish
countryside. Recently, SNH [Scottish Natural Heritage] declared a shoot-on-sight policy if anyone saw a Muntjac deer crossing the Border into Scotland from England, but there are people with wild boar on their doorstep in this country and no guidance is being given.
“The same situation was allowed to happen with illegally released beavers on the Tay.”
Dr Martin Goulding, an ecologist with the Wild Boar Organisation, which promotes awareness of the animals, said eradicating wild boar would be very difficult.
“Eradication of these nocturnal creatures would present practical difficulties,” he added.
“It is best to shoot them stone-dead for humane reasons and because an injured boar is likely to be extremely dangerous.
“Managing them, on the other hand, would mean shooting some and putting up fences to keep them out of certain areas.”
He disputed claims they pose a threat to lambs. “Wild boar are 95 per cent vegetarian and meat in their diet is from little grubs, roadkill and carrion,” Dr Goulding said. “They will eat prey if dead, but won’t chase it down.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are aware of a small number of feral pig populations in Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage are considering the impact and determining what action could or should be taken in relation to them. It is an offence under new legislation to release any
non-native animals or to allow them to escape. Keepers of pigs of any sort are responsible for ensuring they are kept in secure enclosures.
“The non-native species
legislation also provides the Scottish Government and SNH with new powers to take action, if it is deemed desirable and practical, to tackle an invasive species.”
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