Friday, 25 November 2016

Wild boar are native too, and we should recognise that


Yesterday the Scottish Government officially recognised what we have long known and asked for - that beavers are a native species in Scotland and that those which have been reintroduced - whether intentionally or not - should be allowed to stay.

This is the right decision and a huge victory for all those - particularly those in the Tay Valley - who have campaigned for so long or worked on reintroduction projects. It means that these animals can be protected, and if necessary, managed for the long term. It is also good for the semi-legal populations of beavers elsewhere in the UK (such as those in Devon) as it should strengthen the argument that they are a fully native and protected species.

But its implications should go wider. Currently there are hundreds of wild boar living, half legally, in the UK. Like the beavers these are a native species which were wiped out for a few hundred years but which are now back in the wild. The UK (and Scottish) governments, should grant them full native status.

Critics will argue that as they have not been reintroduced in a formal programme they can not be considered native. This is nonsense, something the Scottish government has tacitly accepted by extending 'native' status to descendants of beavers which escaped in the Perthshire, as well as those of the 'official' reintroduction project in Agryll.

More importantly, at a time of biological crisis, when species and populations are falling at a catastrophic rate, we should look to our rules to help wildlife, not use them to throw up arbitrary barriers. Wild boar are native to most of the UK. After an absence of a few hundred years they have returned to several areas. How they came to do that seems, in the grander scheme of things, largely irrelevant. They are the right species in the right place and they are living and breeding and spreading. We should be happy about that and give the protection and the respect they deserve.

Here are some screen-shots I have made of a family near the Forest of Dean in England, from footage we shot a few years back (courtesy of Hand-Crafted Films).






  

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