German minister backs calls to drastically cull wild boars
- August 2, 2020
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A German minister has backed calls to drastically cull the number of wild boars in the country to prevent an outbreak of African swine fever, amid concerns it could decimate the pork industry.
The German farmers’ association called for 70 per cent of the country’s wild boars to be culled – including sows and their newborn piglets.
"No hunter would kill the mother and let the piglets run," Werner Schwarz, vice president of the association, told the Rheinische Post.
Christian Schmidt, the German Agriculture Minister, agreed it made sense to lift limits on when the animals could be hunted. “An intelligent reduction of the wild boar population plays an important role in prevention,” he said.
Nobody knows exactly how many wild boars there are in Germany, but the figure is likely to be hundreds of thousands. In Berlin alone there are estimated to be somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000.
Wild boars have been infected with swine fever in neighbouring Poland and the Czech Republic. Though the disease is harmless to humans, it can easily spread to pigs and drastic measures are needed to prevent it reaching Germany, Mr Schwarz said.
Joachim Rukwied, president of the farmers’ association, warned that an outbreak of the disease would have "catastrophic consequences" for pig farmers. "The markets would collapse," he told a local paper.
Mr Schwarz also said action was needed for the sake of animal welfare, as there is no treatment for the disease. "The suffering of the animals in a hunt is much lower than by the disease,” he said.
Germany has a tumultuous relationship with wild boars. In December, a 50-year-old hunter was killed by one while on a hunt.
And in October a man’s fingertip was torn off in the small German town of Heide, after two wild boars ran on a rampage for several hours.
Earlier in the year a herd of wild boar attacked several people, injuring three, near Berlin’s Tegel airport.
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