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Wild boar Scotland - Chris Gomersall/Alamy Stock Photo
Wild boar Scotland – Chris Gomersall/Alamy Stock Photo

Rampaging wild boars weighing more than 30 stone are attacking lambs and must be culled, Scottish farmers have said.

Steven MacKenzie, a Highland gamekeeper, said he had shot a boar double the normal size as it attacked one of his ewes. He believes extra protein from devouring farm animals explains why wild boars are increasing in size.

Concerns about the growth of Scotland’s wild boar herd have prompted farmers to call for action. They say the animals also rip up pasture and could spread disease.

The boars are descendants of animals kept on farms to provide restaurants with meat in the 1980s and 1990s. They were often crossed with domestic pigs to provide bigger litters.

Some escaped and bred and there are now two major centres of population in Scotland, one in the Great Glen area and another south of Dumfries.

“As we came into the field … we saw three pigs,” Mr MacKenzie, a gamekeeper on the Aberchalder Estate near Invergarry, said. “They had encircled a ewe. They had her on her back and they were quite literally pulling her apart and eating her.

“I was able to put a shot off and dispatch one of the pigs before the other two disappeared back into the forest.”

‘Preying on sheep on purpose’

Mr MacKenzie, who shoots boars to control numbers, said sheep and lambs were being regularly killed by the animals.

“They’re definitely preying on the sheep on purpose,” he added. “The majority of them are coming in at 90 to 100 kilos [15.7 stone] and they are the ones that are just on vegetation only.

“But we are seeing more and more bigger pigs weighing as much as over 200 kilos [31 stone], and it’s my belief that they’re only getting to that size because of the extra protein in their diet, and that protein is coming from meat.”

Experts said smaller boar populations were now all over Scotland, with some close to the central belt and herds in Tayside and Speyside.

The Scottish government was warned seven years ago that the growing number of what it calls “feral pigs” could cause problems, but took no action. It has said numbers are small, although they “may be increasing”.

Andy Riches, a wildlife recorder for the Mammal Society charity, said numbers had increased around tenfold in the past 15 years, from 400 to somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We will continue to collate information on the distribution and impact of feral pigs in Scotland and consider whether any further action is required.”

 

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