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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Wild boar population grows to 500
Wild boar - generic
Contraception may be considered to control wild boar populations
The wild boar population in the English countryside has grown to about 500.

The main group of 200 feral wild boar is in the Kent and Sussex Weald, with about 300 more in Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

The government said the animals escaped from captivity, which had implications for farming, woodland and parkland.

Possible control methods include tracking, trapping or contraception. The government is now going to consult the public on how to manage them.

Given BSE and foot and mouth, it is an issue that some of agriculture is very worried about
Jim Knight
The animals were previously extinct in the wild for 300 years.

Biodiversity minister Jim Knight said: "Do we want to keep them rooting around in woodland and forest, being good for biodiversity as they look for acorns and beech nuts?

"Or should we be controlling the population and getting it back as it was 30 years ago when they were extinct except in farms making nice wild boar sausages?"

Wild boar can cause damage to crops, conservation sites, sports fields and gardens.

They can cause road accidents and even attack people. There is also a risk they could transmit disease to livestock.

Bovine TB

"Given BSE and foot and mouth, it is an issue that some of agriculture is very worried about," said Mr Knight.

"We know from Europe that wild boar can carry swine fever, foot and mouth and bovine TB."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) carried out a five-year monitoring project which ended in 2004.

"Since then we have been looking at more practical issues around how the boar could be tracked and trapped and even looking at contraception if we wanted to control the population," said Mr Knight.

The public consultation will run until 6 January, 2006. Documents can be accessed from Monday 5 September on the Defra website.

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