Wild Boar Silviculturists

Wild Boar in France are not an endangered species, their habitats face no immediate threat and their population remains relatively stable. But as trends in hunting have changed so has the woodland.

One big problem is that an increasing amount of hunting terrain is managed for the ‘tourist hunter’. These hunts are more often on sites of ancient semi natural woodland historically. But the management to ensure a lack of disappointment for a Parisien businessman paying considerable money has altered the woodland to a state that resembles a badly maintained zoo enclosure

 My son calls such woodlandscape ‘Africa’ and it is easy to see why. Large patches of a woodland, up to 2 ha are fenced in by camouflaged netting and the Boar are fed daily at carefully defined feeding points close to the comfortable high chairs used by the hunters.

The bored Boar have little space to migrate in and subsequently spend their days consolidating the soil and rooting out complete trees – particularly those of higher biodiversity value such as Oaks. The resulting canopied desert tends to be Sycamore dominated with absolutely no other ground flora or wildlife at all. The insect life tends to be solely mosquito’s and ticks.

Young Wild Boar – my apologies I am no Gordon Buchanan. 

Yet neighbouring woodland types, open and actually with a higher density of Boar per ha, do not suffer hardly any damage and yet are little more than scrub with standards. What is interesting is that the scrub is the favoured habitat for Boar and their activity is restrained almost in a way to ensure that damage is not just limited but actually managed, particularly surrounding their favourite wallow patches.

The Boar clearly manage open woodland to suit their lifestyle. When it is constrained the Boar manage the woodland to ensure a closed canopy where they are protected from the elements and in open areas they keep low scrub areas maintained to ensure   protection from not just the elements but to protect themselves from interfering humans.

Enter an area as in the above picture at your own peril.

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6 Comments

Filed under Trees and Woodlands

6 responses to “Wild Boar Silviculturists

  1. Rod Leslie

    Very interesting. In our part of Languedoc it is very much local hunting – its how the men of the village bond ! and the effort is considerable, not least because the Boar get in amongst the vines. However, despite the serious effort numbers are going up so fast that the Government is actually exhorting hunters to do more and extending the season ! It is all the more surprising in that boar were extinct in languedoc till, I think, late 19/ early 20th century.

    I’d be interested in your view as to whether boar at a reasonable density are a problem or an asset for silviculture ? I’ve heard & have the impression that they could be quite positive through burying seed they don’t eat and clearing patches of competing vegetation which could benefit tree regeneration.

  2. The research I’m helping out with here is about managing for migratory Boar. And in this respect the Boar are a positive, the idea is that through financial incentives for farmers (tramway vert), wide strips of land would allow migratory herds to improve soil (for increased carbon sequestration) and increase native regen along a green corridor – benefiting a much wider biodiversity. But the animal behaviourial specialists disagree with the premise (and I would side with them from the evidence I was send out to gather), with evidence that the main ‘family’ herds will not migrate, it will only be the young males or dangerous cantankerous old boys who do – the latter grumpy 4 tuskers are well known to use the tarmac roads for migration as it is.

    It’s interesting to hear what you say about Languedoc as there other regions further south with similar situations to what you describe – and I’ve heard theory that population increase is because of new barriers caused by large infrastructure in such regions and thus preventing migration, but how can this be when the populations have been historically low?

    From my own totally personal point of view and having seen different behaviour in different regions the Boar are much more adaptive to the landscape than we give them credit and as such any localised study remains only really relevant in that location. After all look at the sunbathing & shellfish eating Boar on the Aquitaine coast or seaweed eating Breton Boar, or the field margin smaller herds living along the Loire. I once was talking to a farmer within Ile de France who told me that to understand the human population you need to study the Boar behaviour – but when I repeated this, I clearly made a massive faux pas.

  3. George

    In what your comment there is a suggestion that the way French Wild Boar behave is not relevant study for new populations in Britain. What do you think? Also they are often branded as dangerous, is this true?

  4. I can’t answer your first question with any degree of sufficient knowledge, I have never visited and know very little about the UK populations. But I would assume that there is considerably more study on the UK populations than there is here simply because there is much more money and interest in fluffy animals. But that leads me to your second question, where I believe that there could be a future problem in the UK with regards a naivety towards Boar. I was naive myself at first and was lucky not to be hurt – Fully grown Wild Boar are incredibly strong and very aggressive, (particularly at the moment when they have their young). There are many injuries and even deaths in Europe annually, often in situations that could not be avoided with random charges from out of the undergrowth.

  5. Antony Croft

    The wild Boar was a natural feature in all our European landscapes, it is a great shame that they are not aloud to roam free as are deer still. They have their dangers but then the land is not OURS alone. They breed freely as do deer, a great resource if only we could get the supermarket blinded palettes of the English back onto wild food!

  6. The meat is good, here it is very prized and used as the Xmas dinner menu for the school childrens’ special meal. I am a little tired at the bemusement of many French foresters and others when having to explain the problem of too many grey squirrels, deer and rabbits in the UK to which the answer to any French (or indeed to other nationalities) is well why don’t you eat them? Why indeed? what a waste.

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