THERE is no reason to believe boar numbers on Forestry England land in the Dean are rising significantly, says Deputy Surveyor of the Forest Kevin Stannard.

But it has not been possible to come up with an estimate of numbers because the annual spring census did not go ahead because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s cull of the boar has gone ahead and Mr Stannard expects approximately the same number to be killed as in 2019 which was around 1,000 animals.

Mr Stannard gave a report to the meeting of the Forest Council’s strategic overview and scrutiny committee.

He said: “The cull of wild boar on Forestry England-managed land is continuing in the normal way, and I have no reason to believe at this stage that the cull will outturn at a figure significantly higher or lower than last year – which was approximately 1,000 animals (carcasses handled by Forestry England rangers).

“There is thus no reason to believe that the population of boar resident on land managed by Forestry England is rising significantly.

“I have no knowledge of what is happening on privately owned land beyond the public forest estate, and as far as I am aware no one is collecting cull or population data.

“Based on individual conversations with neighbouring farmers, some are reporting significantly higher numbers, and some significantly lower numbers than previous, which matches the pattern of a very mobile population.”

Committee chair Cllr Vilnis Vesma (Lib Dem, Newent and Taynton) said co-operation with private landowners would be helpful.

He said: “There is the simple practical issue of there being no vehicle for collaboration with private landonwers. That is where the council might have a positive role to play.

“The number of boar on Forestry England is probably only half of the number as a whole so when we count and control what is on Forestry England land, we are only dealing with half the population.

“The rest is on private land and represents a huge breeding reservoir.”

Cllr Di Martin (Lab, Cinderford East) said: “Over recent years I’ve had more contact with the public over the boar than any other topic.

“The boar has been a hugely contentious issue and has been a big issue for some parish councils.

“There is a real need for dialogue and communication.”

Cllr Paul Hiett (Ind All, Bream) said: “When I was chair of West Dean parish council, in one year we spent about 20 per cent of our budget on boar, (such as) fencing and putting playing fieds back together.