Behind the scenes at the Bowland Wild Boar Park near Chipping
PUBLISHED: 16:02 12 June 2015 | UPDATED: 18:18 06 June 2016
These wild creatures haven’t roamed free in Lancashire for centuries but that doesn’t mean you can’t see them
His thick matted hair, beady eyes and muddy face mean Geoffrey is not the sort of chap your would want to meet on a dark night.
He has the sort of looks only a mother could love and no table manners to speak of, Conversation is confined to grunts and the occasonial squeal.
Buth then, Geoffrey is a wild boar so the finer things in life are of no concern to him unless they can be found by rooting around in the undergrowth.
It's a different matter when it comes to his offspring. These stripy, ginger creatures are perky porkers and they skip around without a care in the world.
Britain;s population of free range wild boar died our centuries ago but now they are making quite a comeback after several bids for freedom during the last decade. Defra estimates there are now around 1,000 living wild in Britain, but some experts claim that the true figure is much higher.
The vast majority are in the south of England, particularly the Forest of Dean, but you can see them much nearer to home. Bowland Wild Boar Park has had a herd of around 60 kept in large paddocks so they can be seen without any encounters of the too close for comfort kind. the centre, by the banks of the River Hodder, was set up 15 years ago by Chris Bailey and his parents Bill and Jackie.
Dad farmed the area for around 35 years, mainly with pigs but also some sheep and beef cattle. 'Since he was young, my dad had been fascinated by wild boar' said Chris. 'He wanted to keep some just as a hobby but when farming was hit particularly hard in 1999 we decided to give it a go. We started with just two and it has grown from there.'
A small number go for meat sold at the centre's shop but the biggest attraction are the piglets. Chris added 'In our first year we had 200 visitors but that has risen to 35,000. We have a lot of school visits and we are looking to get more involved in educational activities.'
There haven't been any reports of wild boar roaming free in Lancashire but there have been plenty of incidents in the south where hikers have had a nasty surprise. The boar are quite shy but they can become aggressive when they have youngsters.
'Ours are semi-domesticated but they are still wild animals so you have to watch your back.' said Chris. 'The amles can grow to be very big and they have very sharp tusks. just don't take your eyes off them!'
Sturdy fencing at Bowland mean you can admire them in safety.
Bowland Wild Boar Park is two miles from Chipping on the road to Dunsop Bridge. Key PR3 2QT into your satnav and you should find it. As well as wild boar, there are meerkats, wallabies, eagle owls, racoons, alpacas, kunekune pigs, deers, rabbits and donkeys,
For more information go to www.wildboarpark.co.uk