Chippenham's wild boar extinct after 50th birthday bash
It caused a flurry of sightings and speculation from intrigued residents, motorists and dog walkers, but the mystery of a wild boar that appeared to be living in a Wiltshire town has come to a sad end.
For weeks, people living in Chippenham kept seeing a large wild boar out and about at night, but while there was a happy ending for the two pigs that famously went on the run in neighbouring Malmesbury 15 years ago this week, the tale of Chippenham’s porker did not end quite so well.
The wild boar which caused such a stir in one of the towns at the centre of Wiltshire’s historic pig farming industry was hit and killed by a car driven by a man returning from celebrating his 50th birthday party, and was found dead in a ditch the next day.
The sightings raised speculation about whether feral wild boar populations had spread from the places they have already established themselves, notably in the New Forest, the Dorset heathlands, in south Somerset and in the Forest of Dean.
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But with no other sightings since the fatal crash last week, the presence of the animal is being marked down as a one-off.
The saga has echoes of the tale of the Tamworth Two, when two juvenile boar-cross pigs went on the run on the streets of Malmesbury for a week in late January 1998. After worldwide media attention, the two were safely captured and lived out their days at an animal sanctuary in Kent.
But the wild boar of Chippenham met a rather less fortunate end after a couple of weeks of being elusive in and around the town. He made it as far as the woodland corridor that runs along Hardenhuish Brook, between Sheldon School and the town’s football club, which is well within the built-up area of Chippenham.
Wiltshire police embarked on a lengthy search for the animal, and warned people out walking in the countryside on the edge of the town to be wary of approaching it – particularly if they have dogs.
But last week David Beard’s 50th birthday celebrations ended in a way he’ll never forget, with a broken nose, a smashed-up car and a dead wild boar.
“There was nothing there at all and the next thing I knew it was just standing there, it was quite huge,” he said.
“It was a really good day and then that – what a way to end it,” he added.