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First the EU, now Ukip councillors have Forest of Dean boar in their sights

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 27, 2014

By MARCUS DENBY

  • The creatures are a menace according to Ukip councillors Alan Preest, Colin Guyton and Richard Leppington, pictured below

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wdnews@b-nm.co.uk

Anger at damage caused by wild boar in the Forest of Dean is close to boiling point, say three councillors who are calling for a referendum on a bigger cull of the animals.

Ukip trio Alan Preest, Richard Leppington and Colin Guyton have written to Defra asking the Government department to fund a poll.

They say the Forestry Commission, which manages the boar population, needs to have a mandate to carry out a large-scale cull – if that's what residents say they want.

Mr Leppington, councillor for Blakeney and Bream, said: "We are calling on Defra to fund a referendum in the Forest where people can have the opportunity to cast a vote on whether they want to give the Forestry Commission a mandate for a larger cull.

"I have a huge postbag from people in my constituency affected by damage from the boar; they have had road accidents and near misses and are afraid to go out walking their dogs.

"A lot of people feel they are not being listened to and that the green lobby is dominating the debate."

A cull target is set each year after deliberations between the Forestry Commission and other local parties. This season's target is 135, the highest yet.

But it is virtually impossible to tell exactly what the total population is, with estimations varying wildly.

Pro-boar campaigners the UK Wild Boar Association, based in the Forest, accept the population needs management but wants more to be done to protect the creatures and to enable an harmonious relationship between them and people in the district.

They say dog attacks, which are still relatively rare, can be avoided by controlling pets on a lead, and that damage to verges, gardens and recreational areas is relatively easily repaired.

A Defra spokesman said the letter has not yet been received and could not comment until it has.

Ian Harvey, wildlife manager for the Forestry Commission in the Forest of Dean, said for them it's a question of wait and see.

"Various councils across the district are debating about boar at the moment and we need to see what they come back to us with," he said.

"In terms of a referendum, there would be a lot of things to thrash out before that happened; how it would be structured and how much it would cost, so it's probably quite a long way off if it goes ahead at all."

This season's cull began in September.

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