Wild boar Sus scrofa has been extinct in Britain for several centuries. Recently, however, some conservationists have argued that it should be reintroduced. Here, we report that two populations of free-living wild boar are already present in Britain, in the south of England, ranging over areas of approximately 15 km2 in the county of Dorset and 175 km2 in the counties of Kent and East Sussex. Presence of the animals was indicated initially by unsolicited reports to the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, and was confirmed by searching the relevant areas for field signs such as tracks, faeces, nests and rooted areas. Six carcasses of road-killed or shot animals were available for inspection from the Kent/East Sussex area and had the morphological characteristics of wild boar. Breeding was confirmed in the Kent/East Sussex area and is suspected in the Dorset population. A simple population dynamics model, based on an estimated initial population of 100 animals, suggests a growth rate, r, of between 0.016 and 0.267 for the Kent/East Sussex population. We conclude that the Kent/East Sussex population is likely to prove viable unless actively persecuted, and discuss the social, agricultural, ecological and conservational implications.
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