Public perception of wild boar (Sus scrofa) in the Forest of Dean, UK

Lucy Bearman-Brown, Rebecca Saunders

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Introduction: Despite widespread control measures, wild boar (Sus scrofa) abundance is increasing across Europe, where they are not always popular with residents. Wild boar were reintroduced to the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK ~30 years ago, following countrywide extinction in the 16th Century. Reintroduction was unofficial through release of farmed stock. Without natural predation, the population grew by 300% from 2013-2016, and is currently ~1200 animals. This has resulted in conflict between the feral boar and human residents of the Forest, with calls to cull and even extinguish the population, due to damage to land and private property, road-traffic accidents, and negative interactions between humans and their pets. This study aimed to quantify the impact of boar on residents of the Forest, and determine how personal experiences and understanding of boar affect peoples’ opinions regarding the future of the population.
Methodology: A qualitative, self-administered questionnaire was circulated, targeting residents of the Forest. Open and closed-answer questions were included to determine attitudes and experiences regarding interactions with the boar.
Main Findings: Boar were widely reported (97.9% n = 1021 had seen boar). Residents >65 years were found to have more negative perceptions of boar, and were more likely to want the population managed or extirpated. Duration of residence in the Forest was significant, with positive attitudes more likely in those resident for a shorter time. Damage caused to property was the highest consistent negative factor on all opinions of wild boar. Negative interactions were rare, with only 3.5% of sightings ending in confrontation between boar and human/dog. Dogs walked on-lead were significantly (X2(3) = 42.26, P<0.001) less likely to have a reported interaction with boar. Most respondents (58.4%, n=596) did not consider the boar to be native to the Forest. General knowledge of boar behaviour and ecology was low amongst respondents, and was significantly associated with lowest acceptance of the animals.
Principal Conclusions and Implications for Field: These findings increase understanding of factors leading to human-boar conflict that could be applied to similarly reintroduced species. This may guide land managers in designing effective, socially-accepted strategies to manage the population in the Forest and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Society for Anthrozoology Conference 2018: Animals in Our Lives: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Human–Animal Interactions - University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 2 Jul 20185 Jul 2018


ConferenceInternational Society for Anthrozoology Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleISAZ 2018
Internet address


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