Many of you who keep an eye on local news and events will have spotted a story that broke late last week when night-time traffic on the Cannock Road was held up between Five Ways at Heath Hayes and Burntwood by some unusual pigs taking a walk, and there has been much speculation about exactly what breed they were, and where they originated.
Indeed, they were so hairy and of such unfamiliar nature that I initially mistook them in the footage for Muntjac deer. Most of the speculation settled on them being wild boar.
I include the circulating film of the incident below:
Well, one of the reasons I’ve not had much time to post on the blog this weekend is because having reflected on the nature of the porcine perambulation, I was troubled by the question of what the animals were exactly, and where they may have come from.
My interest was piqued when a local farmer got in touch to tell me he was being engaged in an experiment sponsored by Natural England to re-introduce wild boar in the area.
This is obviously a matter of some concern, as the pigs clearly have no road sense, and we already have a high accident toll from traffic collisions with deer, badgers and other other wild animals. Just what good can come of the introduction of pigs?
It seems that Natural England have been very concerned about changes in the area brought about by overdevelopment of housing – particularly in the Norton, Burntwood and Lichfield areas, where large new developments are either in the pipeline or well underway.
Powerless to intervene in planning matters, specialists from Natural England have been clearly thinking outside the box and have worked with local anti-development protesters to thwart developments by other means.
Yesterday, I spoke with representative of the Burntwood Anger Group (BAG) Gloria Frottage about this curious initiative, who told me, ‘We could see that in some areas of the country large developments had been halted or cancelled completely by the discovery of rare, important species on the sites concerned, so we set out with Graham Wigglescope of Chasewater Wildlife Group to find some. He was talking about some toads and newts and other horrid things but he just came up with a blank. We knew then we had to introduce a species that was unique, and preferably jolly cute – not slimy and unpleasant like those toads.
‘Graham had explained that the deer we have were too common to be protected – even you in Brownhills have them for heavens sake! So a few of us approached Natural England who have several schemes relating to wild boar across the country. We decided we could buy into this, but it would need to be special.’
What I found out next was quite shocking. On a quiet farm between Heath Hayes and Gentleshaw, a unique breed of pigs has been interbred for release into the area, and has been registered with the National Pig Society as the Burntwood Boar. This short, stout and somewhat aggressive animal has been bred to reflect the characteristics of the local youth, with whom it shares 99% of its DNA. It is a remarkable animal possessing thick fur on its back, a strongly aggressive personality and is given to wandering into roads randomly, often with a long line of its ill-disciplined offspring in it’s wake – as can be seen in the film above.
The farmer, who wishes to remain nameless until the insurance position has been clarified, has carefully bred these animals over a three-year period, and late last year trial releases started in Burntwood’s greenbelt and on the few grass verges that remain in Norton Canes. Cuckoo Bank has seen a release, as has land between Wall and Lichfield.
It is hoped the presence of this unique species could prevent any development as it would threaten their habitat.
All is not well, however. The Burntwood Boars released so far have caused several traffic incidents, but worse than that, have been exhibiting the rampant behaviour of their forebears: they have been breeding freely, have been eating all before them including crops in fields and gardens, have run amok in villages and towns at night fighting and generally being a source of constant antisocial behaviour.
Police Constable Wayne Peeler of Staffordshire Police is very concerned about the situation, ‘Of course the introduction of the pigs was cleared with us first, and to be fair the behaviour they exhibit is far from unusual in Norton, Chase Terrace and Burntwood. Indeed, the pigs seem to feel at home and only last week I had to make several arrests in a turf battle between Chasetown Youth and a herd of pigs. The pigs seemed to be winning, but of course, they had all the brains on their side.
‘It’s bad enough having to cover an area from Penkridge to Burton single handedly, without having to regularly round up wild animals and transport them back to the fields. On the plus side, it does seem like the developers are pulling out citing property value concerns.’
Over in Lichfield, the pigs have been more of an issue, with them roving onto leafy estates at night, mating noisily in The Close and bathing in Stowe and Minster Pools with little regard for the City’s history or standards. One resident commented it was like bower day, when all the townies came in from Walsall. Only the pigs were better behaved. And their thick fur has caused several to be mistaken for the local MP, much to his annoyance. To be fair, the pig also seemed pretty annoyed at the comparison with synthetic fur, as anyone would be.
The question is, are the Burntwood Boars a good idea if they do prevent further urbanisation? I’d love to hear from you. Comment here, hit me up on social media or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.