Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Willy Poole

As almost anyone will tell you (and in my experience you can always find something that almost anyone will tell you) it has been a great year for the brackens.

The bracken beds spread ever wider on the hillsides. This may not concern you as you drive along the valley road in your hermetically sealed car, but if you had to cross that hillside, be it on foot, quad, or horse, you would sharp sing a different song.

I mean, just suppose that you had to gather sheep on that hillside ( it would be hell's delight. Bracken is becoming a cancer that is eating into the working economy of the hills ( such as it is. You would not want the stuff spreading all over your garden and the hill men do not want it either. Bracken is a pest. Various methods of controlling bracken have been attempted. You can spray it with a knapsack spray (labour intensive). You can spray it with a quad or a tractor, but the terrain is a major problem here ( bracken makes no pretence of being convenient.

You can spray it from a helicopter ( a bit like standing by Grey's Monument and scattering pounds 5 notes in the wind. All the methods of bracken control that have so far been tried are expensive and ineffective and they are just picking at the problem.

So is there a solution to the bracken problem? Yes there is and I will give it to you in one word ( pigs. I had never thought about this until I talked to a chap at the Scottish Game Fair a year or two since.

This chap rents some 50,000 acres of forestry land somewhere in darkest Scotland. He has a `rolling herd' of wild pigs (Sanglier) which he moves round his patch, controlling them with electric fencing. He is happy because his costs are low and his product is organic and very tasty. The Foresters are happy because the pigs scarify the ground, thereby freeing the growth of various seedlings, the pigs do not harm young trees and the pigs are death to bracken which they eat right through to and including the quarmes. And, of course, the pigs are happy because they are living natural and relatively stress free lives.

Sanglier were indigenous throughout the British Isles (can I still say that? …

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