The French authorities are planning to cull all wild boar in a zone along the Belgian border to try to prevent an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).
France is taking action to protect its lucrative pork export market after wild boar tested positive for the virus worryingly close to its border.
Since it was discovered in wild boar in the Belgian region of Luxembourg in September, more than 900 wild boar have been found or shot, nearly 800 of which have been inside the control zones. More than 300 wild boar have been confirmed with the virus.
Last week, after two positive wild boar were found in a new area, the Walloon government decided to expand the buffer zone and the surveillance zone. After consultation with the European Commission, the buffer zone was further extended to the west, meaning a larger part of it will be located at the French border
“The confirmation of two cases of African swine fever on January 9, 2019, in Belgium at about 1 km from the border, leaves our country more exposed than ever to this major risk for pig farming. We are now at a maximum risk level,” a French Ministry statement said, according to Reuters.
France, which exports about 170,000 tonnes of pork outside the EU, intends to create a boar-free zone spanning several miles its side of the border by culling all wild boar in the coming weeks and erecting a perimeter fence in the next few days, the ministry said.
The authorities in Wallonia have also stepped up control measures since last week. As well as expanding the surveillance zone, they have erected new fencing to keep the virus within the contaminated zone.
It is assumed that there are about 2000 wild boars in the demarcated zone. Measures in the contaminated zone include bans on hunting, feeding animals, traffic and the ‘exploitation of the forest’. Only specialized government hunters are active in this area with trapping traps.
All commercial and domestic pigs inside the zone were culled within weeks of the virus being detected and so far it has only been found in wild boar.
Meanwhile, Poland, where ASF has been a problem for many years, is reportedly planning to cull 185,000 wild boar across the country to help contain the virus, drawing protests from hunters who claim the measure is excessive.