Between their medieval extinction and the 1980s, when wild boar farming began, only a handful of captive wild boar, imported from the continent, were present in Britain. Occasional escapes of wild boar from wildlife parks have occurred as early as the 1970s, but since the early 1990s significant populations have re-established themselves after escapes from farms; the number of which has increased as the demand for wild boar meat has grown.
Who will have the last laugh?
There have also been reports of wild boar having crossed the River Wye into Monmouthshire, Wales. Many other sightings, across the UK, have also been reported.
Population estimates for the Forest of Dean are disputed. In early 2010 the Forestry Commission embarked on a cull, with the aim of reducing the boar population from an estimated 150 animals to 100. By August is was stated that efforts were being made to reduce the population from 200 to 90, but that only 25 had been killed. The failure to meet cull targets was confirmed in February 2011.
1998 DEFRA Populations estimates were;
The largest population, in Kent/East Sussex, was estimated at approximately 200 animals in the core distribution area.
The second largest, in Gloucestershire/Herefordshire, was estimated to be in excess of 100 animals.
The smallest, in west Dorset, was estimated to be fewer than 50 animals.
Since winter 2005/6 significant escapes/releases have also resulted in wild-boar colonising areas around the fringes of Dartmoor, in Devon. These are considered as an additional single 'new breeding population' and currently estimated to be up to 100 animals.