Poland seeking new powers to shoot wild boar, as Germany ups ASF defences
12th Dec 2019 / By Alistair Driver
The Polish Agriculture Minister is proposing new laws to allow the army and police to shoot wild boar to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF), while Germany is stepping up its defences as nears its border.
Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski wants to give army and police personnel extra powers after a new outbreak was detected in the west of Poland in November, according to a report by Associated Press.
Around 20 cases were discovered in at least two clusters in the Lubuskie region, with some as near as 40km from the German border. The new cases represented a worrying jump westwards of about 250km and took the virus close to Poland’s biggest pig producing region, Wielkopolskie province, home to 30% of the country’s pig population.
The infected area is being fenced off, but massive shootings are necessary, Mr Ardanowski said on state Polish Radio. The proposed new legislation would also punish anyone obstructing the killing of the animals, he added.
Around 180,000 wild boar have been shot to contain ASF in the east of Poland, where the virus has been spreading for some time, but environmentalists have tried to prevent the culls, according to the report.
Mr Ardanowski will submit the draft law to parliament in coming weeks for swift processing, he said.
Germany steps up defences
Germany is also concerned. An outbreak in Germany, one of the EU’s biggest pig producers and a major exporter, would have even more serious implications. ISN, which represents German pig farmers, said the industry was ‘worried’.
The authorities are deploying sniffer dogs, drones and electric fences to prevent wild boar from neighbouring countries transmitting bringing the disease into the country, the Brussels Times reports.
With the virus now just 40km from the border, Torsten Reinwald, the spokesman for the German Hunting Federation, said: “It is no longer a question of knowing whether ASF will reach Germany, but when. The virus can survive in mud on vehicle wheels for up to 100 days.”
In Saxony, bordering Poland, hunters, vets and emergency workers are being trained to take practical measures in the field. Using drones and infrared cameras, they simulate the infection outbreaks and how it could be handled.
Further north, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has purchased a 50-kilometre long, mobile electric fence for €50,000 to keep wild boar out of Poland.
On the opposite side of the country, a special unit of six sniffer dogs has been set up to find dead and sick wild boars in Sarre, which is close to France.
Meanwhile, Denmark has just finished building a 70-kilometre fence on its border with Germany that is intended to stop any wild boar getting through.
The latest APHA ASF update shows that across Europe, there were 84 ASF cases in domestic pigs recorded in Europe in November, 78 of which were in Romania. Russia, Ukraine and Moldova each recorded two cases.
This compared with 119 cases in October and a recent peak of 643 in August, although the fall might be partly due to seasonal trends.
There were nearly 300 cases reported in European wild boar in November, including 93 in Poland. This compared with nearly 500 across Europe in August.
UK risk assessment
The risk remains at medium for the entry of contaminated or infected products into UK at present, APHA said.
“Border checks on passengers are paramount, as are publicity campaigns aimed at reaching the travelling public and reminding them that bringing back products of animal origin from outside the EU or from a region in the EU under disease restrictions is not allowed,” it said.
It stressed that commercially produced products, which can be safely traded in the EU, will be labelled as such, but warned that ‘home produced products are a particular concern’.
“All travellers are strongly advised to avoid bringing any pork products – including ham, sausages or pâté – back to the UK from affected parts of Europe. Travellers from Asia and other third country areas who bring meat or dairy products can also face prosecution and a large fine,” it added.
The risk of exposure to the pig population in the UK is still highly dependent on the level of biosecurity on individual pig premises, but is still considered to be low, the agency said.
Advice to producers
- APHA continues to remind pig keepers about the risk from meat products brought into the UK from affected countries as personal imports and to adhere to the ban on feeding pigs catering, kitchen or domestic waste or meat/meat products.
- Dedicated clothing and boots must be provided for workers and visitors.
- Meanwhile, some countries, including Denmark, where lots of workers are from Eastern Europe, are recommending that farms restrict food brought in by workers – and stock the fridges themselves.