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Why culling isn’t a black and white issue

15 March 2014

To cull or not to cull: that is – once again – the question. This time it’s not badgers, deer, or even goats that are being discussed, but wild boar. Locals in the Forest of Dean have complained that these giant pigs are attacking their dogs, spooking the horses, causing car accidents, and tearing up gardens and football pitches.

The Forestry Commission have estimated that the numbers of boar are doubling almost every year, and they believe there are currently about 800 living in the 43 square miles of woodland. If the Forestry Commission get their way, half of these would be culled. But is that really such a big deal? With no natural predators in the UK, it’s natural that their population will continue to grow, and wild boar culls are common elsewhere, as Prince William can testify.


Culling might seem cruel, but others argue that it’s a necessary evil. In November, the RSPB were criticised for planning a cull of feral goats in Loch Lomond; the charity claimed the goats were damaging the delicate woodland habitat. Meanwhile, badgers dominated the news when trial culls were carried out in a bid to stop the spread of bovine TB, and the Crown Estate got into hot water when Animal Aid revealed that they had culled a total of 7,129 animals in 2013, including mink, moles, parakeets and foxes.

These stories played on people’s perceptions about what an animal charity is for: ‘how can the RSPB defend culling goats, when the RSPCA are against the culling of badgers?’ The problem is that culling isn’t a black and white issue. Sometimes – for example with deer in Scotland – if the animals aren’t culled, then they are likely to starve. Surely, then, it’s kinder to kill the older, or weaker, animals instead of forcing them to suffer? In other cases, the argument is harder to follow. What is more important? Delicate woodland, or feral goats? Farmed pheasants, or invasive mink? And again, cattle (and, therefore, farmers’ incomes), or badgers?

Meanwhile, in the Forest of Dean, some locals have taken matters into their own hands, and are poaching the animals. At least if the culling were organised, locals would be less at risk from stray flying bullets

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  • Doggie Roussel

    Nothing more delicious than wild boar, when hung well and cooked properly… sangliers, as the French call them… The last one that I ate wrecked the bonnet of my car, but the meat was well tenderised and a neighbour butchered the beast for me… this was in the French Alps.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Whats the problem? Use the boar as a food source. Honestly the Westminster Bubbleheads turn everything into a tiresome problem!

    • startledcod

      If they start dishing out wild boar at food banks I’m going to swell those queues.

  • El_Sid

    They’re dangerous when alive and very tasty when dead – it’s a no-brainer.

    • startledcod

      Provided they’re killed young enough, a post-puberty boar is nothing like as tasty as a sow.

  • True_Belle

    There are some very squealy piggish comments below….. all typical of this Hoglike troughing government!

  • Paul Hughes

    Let’s reintroduce everything we ever had and tell the over-subsidised farmers to get bent. Wolves, bears, boar, elk, beavers, the lot. We’re beyond the age of autarky and can afford to send a few farmers into offices in order to return a reasonable percentage of Britain to what it was and would have been, without us.

  • AndrewMelville

    Animal aid and other nutty charities should be culled. Same for Quangos.

  • ButcombeMan

    This is a lightweight article.

    The Uk is a man managed landscape. Some culling of some animals, is inevitable

    Sensible country folk have now withdrawn financial support from both RSPCA and RSPB.
    Activists and have made both into political footballs.

    • startledcod

      The RSPB support wind farms, the lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    What does Owen (big GM) Paterson think we should do?

    • startledcod

      Not interested, I really need to hear what celebs think, they have the opinions that matter.

  • Ricky Strong

    So we have a growing abundance of wild boar that has been free to roam our woodlands eating natural wild food. The Italians would call that a blessing. Give me a venison steak or some wild boar any day.

    • Kitty MLB

      Indeed roasted venison in a red wine and juniper gravy with a decent
      claret followed by a cheeseboard with a fine port.
      Like sausages and mash also-these adorable creatures are quite safe
      from my carnivorous ways and should be free to roam.
      But the Deer especially on the Isle of Rum need keeping an eye on.

      • telemachus

        Adorable indeed
        I was recently in the Forest ofvDean with the family and we were visited by one of these creatures at a picnic
        I was tempted to get out the barbecue and Reggae Sauce

        • Colonel Mustard

          A boar at risk from a bore? How quaint. And what a pity alien abductions are never around in the Forest of Dean when you want them.

        • Kitty MLB

          I’d wager that if you shared that wicked thought with the wife and kids that you
          would have been put on that barbecue.
          Very cruel, son of Odysseus, my family
          would not have had that thought in their
          heads, I should repent of your sins if I were
          you. There is no way of knowing what one
          will come back as in the next incarnation.

      • Ricky Strong

        Top that fine dinner of yours off with a single malt and we have a deal.

  • swatnan

    Gove would like to see a cull of Old Etonians and Toffs in the Cabinet; and I would agree with him. Lets introduce quotas now. As for badgers, there has to be some mangagement of lifestock, wild as well as domestic, because most habitats and ecosystems these days are not natural but manmade and womanmade. And that means shooting some animals.

    • swatnan

      … that should have been ‘boar’ not ‘badgers'; I think i’ve got badgers on the brain. Incidently, the Normans were one of the first to introduce ‘management’ of forests into Britain, after the Romans. Until Robin Hodd came along and scuppered their careful management plans by poaching, illegally. Lets hear it for the Normans.

      • Chris Morriss

        And culled wild boar make excellent sausages.

    • startledcod

      I too have been struggling with this, how many should the badger contingent in the Cabinet be, what about Boars, old-Etonian badgers or boars? (Don’t bother with old-Etonian bores comments, too predictable).

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