The increase of wild boar numbers in England is posing a danger to pig farmers’ stock both in terms of the spread of disease and the risk of interbreeding.

There have been growing numbers of sightings reported on the Kent/Sussex border, as well as in Hereford and Dorset, and concerns are that if the boar spread quickly, they will soon be found north of the Thames. If this were to happen, say experts, the boar would come into contact with large numbers of swine in outdoor units.

‘The fencing surrounding the units is rarely sufficient to keep the boar out, and they can smell a sow on heat from miles away, so interbreeding presents a problem,’ says Ian Campbell from the National Pig Association.

‘We also have evidence that these animals carry Classical swine fever on the continent, which presents terrible problems for owners whose pigs may come into contact with them,’ he continued.

The NPA, amongst other groups, is calling for careful monitoring of the situation with the potential need for a cull should numbers continue to grow.

A spokesperson for Defra toldCountrylife.co.uk: ‘Defra has begun talking to farming and countryside organisations, including the NFU, to get details of how the feral wild boar population – extensive details on the Defra web – is affecting agriculture and the environment.

‘We are planning to draw up a wild boar management report by end of March, which we plan to put out to consultation, if the Minister approves, in a similar manner to the recent deer management consultation paper, in the summer.’

Information on current status of the feral wild boar, what to do if you see a feral boar, and legal restrictions regarding controlling the animals are available on theDefra website. For more on wild boar see David Tomlinson’s piece on the return of the animal to Britain’s shores.