Researching management of feral wild boar

Wild boar in forest

Although wild boar became extinct in Britain for the second time some 300 years ago, they are again living free in parts of England and Wales and have recently been reported in Scotland. All wild boar living free in Britain today result from animals that were imported and kept under licence in zoos and wildlife collections or on wild boar farms.

Thermal video of wild boar (WMV-3545K)

Video footage of Wild Boar, encountered whilst surveying to estimate population density of Wild Boar, in Alto Merse, Siena. The first clip is of a sounder of two adults and five piglets, the second is a single adult. Thermal imaging makes it much easier to detect animals which are shy or largely nocturnal.

The survey was part of a project to develop monitoring methods for wild boar for future application on British wild boar populations. Carried out in collaboration with ISPRA (IstitutoSuperiore per la Protezione e la RicercaAmbientale) and FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency).

Video captured using a FLIR® ATS Thermal imaging weapon sight.

Current management policy

Primary responsibility for feral wild boar management lies with local communities and individual landowners. See Feral Wild Boar in England: An action plan (Defra 2008) (PDF-912K).


In England, feral wild boar are present on the public forest estate in Kent and Sussex (Forestry Commission (FC) South East England) and in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire (FC Forest of Dean).  There are suggestions that boar may be present on the public forest estate in Devon (FC Peninsula) and Dorset (FC New Forest).  There are also small localised populations in Wales and Scotland.

Internationally the wild boar is recognised as one of the most invasive vertebrates and their numbers have been increasing in many European countries. Typically, feral populations appear to remain low for many years before rapidly expanding. In the UK feral wild boar populations may still be in this initial phase.

Wild Boar and Deer Census, Forest of Dean 2014(PDF-957K)

Research by Forest Research

  • Collating information on boar distribution on the forest estate and elsewhere in England, Wales and Scotland
  • Developing methods of estimating abundance of wild boar
  • Improving boar management capability
  • Investigating population dynamics
  • Investigating methods to evaluate wild boar impacts on woodland biodiversity.


Harmer, R., Straw, N. and Williams, D. (2011). Boar, Bluebells and Beetles (PDF-1239K). Quarterly Journal of Forestry 105, 195-202.


For further information contact:

Dr Robin Gill