Beechenhurst Six believed to have survived Forest of Dean wild boar cull
BOAR culling in the Forest of Dean has ended for now and it looks like the infamous 'Beechenhurst Six' have survived.
Forestry Commission rangers have shot 79 wild boar since September and a further 23 have been hit by cars and died in the same time frame.
The commission set a target of 100 boar to cull by this month and they will now turn their attentions to reassessing the total number of the animals – a difficult task that has been the subject of huge debate.
The Beechenhurst Six, a family of boar spotted regularly around Beechenhurst, made national headlines last year when it emerged they would no longer be exempt from the cull. They are a big draw for tourists.
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But Ian Harvey, chief wildlife ranger for the Forestry Commission, said: "I saw a group of six boar on Wednesday, just the other side of the road from Beechenhurst and we get very regular sightings from around Cannop and that area. Once they go back into the depths of the Forest it's impossible to tell one individual boar from another so I can't be absolutely certain.
"But if it's not the original Beechenhurst Six, it's a Beechenhurst Six."
He added: "We are still getting people complaining about the damage boar do, a lot of which will be hidden by the snow at the moment."
Homeowners have found their lawns torn up by boar digging for food and a smilar fate has befallen village greens.
Wildlife campaigners have long been calling for the Forestry Commission to revisit its Wild Boar strategy and for the animals to be better managed.
Forester Scott Passmore, from the UK Wild Boar Trust, formerly Friends of the Boar, said the number of boar sightings (submitted at www.ukwildboartrust.org) had "significantly decreased" since September.
"We hope now that the cull has finished the boar will be allowed to return to where they feel safe, the centre of the Forest, and the number of complaints about their rooting will also decrease until the cull begins again. Unfortunately, while management of the boar is sometimes necessary, the sound of rifles firing off will drive animals out of the woods into urban areas and cause unwanted negative interactions."