A BUMPER crop of acorns has extended the pannage season for pigs to roam the New Forest well into December.
The extra time was announced at the Verderers’ Court on Wednesday with the usual 60-day period lengthened by 36 days until 21st December.
The pannage season is decided by Forestry England’s Deputy Surveyor, Bruce Rothnie, who made the decision after this year’s glut of acorns.
It is known as a “mast year”, although it is uncertain why the phenomenon occurs.
The nuts are poisonous to livestock, so each autumn a few hundred pigs are released to gobble them up and are a popular seasonal sight for residents and tourists alike.
A Forestry England spokesperson said: “This year we had a very dry spring and summer, so the oaks could be reacting to this by producing extra seeds this autumn.
“Good news for the pigs here in the New Forest and there will hopefully be lots of acorns that manage to establish themselves in the soils and saplings start to grow, and become the next generation of oak trees.”
She added: “Also the piglets may look cute, but their mothers won’t be happy if you get too close, and under no circumstances should people try to stroke them, or give them food.”