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The wild boar will eat more or less anything
(picture belga)
The wild boar will eat more or less anything

Wild boars return to forest

Thu 12/04/07 - According to the Flemish Nature and Woodland Agency, wild boars have been spotted in the Zoniën Forest south of Brussels for the first time in half a century. A lot has changed in the 50 years since the last wild boar was seen in the forest, which forms a green buffer zone between Brussels' southern and eastern suburbs and the villages just outside the capital.

Much of the area that borders the forest is now built up with prime real estate in well-to-do areas such as Jezus-Eik (Overijse), Midden Hut (Sint-Genesius Rode) and Fort Jaco (Ukkel).

Consequently, the return of wild boars to the forest could cause problems for the residents of the sometimes palatial abodes just outside its boundaries.

Sander Hofman, who works as a biologist at Antwerp Zoo told the daily 'Het Laatste Nieuws' that "wild boars not only cause a lot of damage to woodlands, but also to the adjacent areas. They eat anything and are viewed as being a pest".

How did they get there?

Naturally, this all begs the question of how the wild boars managed to make their return to the forest after an absence 50 years.

Mr Hofman says that he can't say whether the boars were released into the forest or they made their own way there.

However, what he can say is the boars living in the forest is proof that it is being well managed.

Mr Hofman stresses that problems only arise when there is an over-population of wild boar in a given area of forest.

Despite them having a somewhat aggressive image, walkers, horse-riders and cyclists need not fear being attacked.

Wild boars try and avoid confrontation and only attack when they feel that their young are being threatened.

Boars must be shot

The fact that wild boars turn up the soil in their search for food, means that they can cause a great deal of damage to the woodland areas in which they live.

The foresters whose job it is to manage the 5,200 hectare Zoniën Forest are currently trying to assess the number of boars currently living there, as well as compiling an inventory of the damage the creatures have done to the forest so far.

The Woodland and Nature Agency says that as the wild boars have been released into the forest by humans, shooting them is the only option.

The Agency's Patrick Huvenne told the Brussels regional TV channel TV Brussels that not only would the boars upset the ecological balance in the forest, but their limited gene pool would cause problems once they started to breed.

The animal rights group GAIA  has reacted angrily to Mr Huvenne's comments.

The group's Chairman Michel Vandenbosche  told journalists that GAIA will resist what he described as "senseless murders"

Anyone who spots a wild boar is asked to report it to the authorities by calling 0494/83 89 83.