Boar war over wild pig's Irish heritage
A 'boar war' has erupted in the Republic over whether the wild hairy pig is an Irish native or foreign invader.
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) strenuously objected yesterday to the wild boar being officially classified by a government body as an "invasive species".
The move came after State wildlife chiefs declared war on the boar following a number of sightings in wooded areas.
Invasive Species Ireland, a project backed by the state's National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS ), lists wild boar as one of its "most unwanted" invasive species because they "damage crops, gardens, amenity areas as well as potentially spreading disease".
Wild boars are known to carry TB, foot and mouth, swine flu and the blue tongue virus.
But the animal is not completely alien - they lived in Ireland until prehistoric times but were driven to extinction as humans hunted them or cut down their forest habitats.
And they are now making something of a comeback with 12 boars spotted in woodlands recently. Last month a wild boar was reported to have been trapped and killed in the Slieve Bloom Mountains.
The boars were believed to have been illegally released into the wild by shooters.
But the Wildlife Trust said boars were not invasive, and were "a keystone species in forest ecosystems".
"Their rooting activity creates a disturbance regime that increases plant diversity and aids tree regeneration," it added.
"For these reasons, the Irish Wildlife Trust objects to the current classification of wild boar as an invasive species by Invasive Species Ireland.