By Ivor Traktor, Farming Correspondent (intern)
A wild haggis was the star attraction for thousands of visitors at today’s Suffolk Show, the annual showcase event for the county’s agricultural industry.
The traditional ginger-haired Scottish wild haggis was captured last week in North Suffolk, where a herd had colonised a large area of land after escaping from a rare breed show in Fressingfield.
Normally the haggis, which are destined for hungry Scotsmen’s Burns night dinner plates, are bred in captivity in Scotland, because once they get into the open countryside they can devastate crops.
Their favourite food is carrot and turnip, but Suffolk potato tycoon Maurice Piper said some of his recent crop had been munched through by the rampaging haggis herd.
Interest in the rodents shot up last year when the Suffolk Gazette revealed how they had escaped into the North Suffolk countryside.
But although each female was capable of producing 200 cubs a year, none had been caught. Until now.
This adult carrot-topped wild haggis, which has a distinctive white face, was snared in a field in Cratfield, just two miles from where the five initial escapees made their bid for freedom from the rare breed show at Fressingfield village hall.
Normally secretive and shy, the wild haggis gave visitors to the Suffolk Show a rare chance to get up close and study its behaviour.
The haggis are not dangerous creatures, but do not like being picked up or cuddled, so a specialist haggis handler was on hand to prevent enthusiastic children from causing any problems.
A Show spokesman said: “We were thrilled at the opportunity to display a wild haggis. We put it with the rare breeds section and it drew massive crowds all day. Some of our Scottish visitors said it made them feel peckish, but we made sure no harm came to it.”
Tens of thousands of visitors went through the Suffolk Show gates today, at Trinity Park just outside Ipswich, with many more expected for the final day tomorrow.
It is believed the captured haggis will be returned to Scotland after the Suffolk Show, so it can be fattened and readied for Burns Night next January.
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