Fight against african swine fever: peter hauk recommends mass killing of wild boars

Multiply rapidly: wild boars Photo: dpa

The fewer wild boars, the lower the risk of African swine fever spreading. In order to decimate the stock, Minister of Agriculture Peter Hauk recommends drastic measures.

Stuttgart – According to Agriculture Minister Peter Hauk (CDU), the best way to prevent the spread of African swine fever is through mass killing of wild boars. “A noticeable reduction in the population cannot be achieved with hunting alone,” Hauk told our newspaper. You have to be realistic. “That is why we will have to install traps and traps into which the wild boars are lured in order to then kill them in accordance with animal welfare standards.” The animal rights activists “do not particularly like” this, but it is an effective means of reducing the population. Wild boars are considered to be carriers of the disease. Hauk: "The higher their density, the faster the disease can spread."

Hauk described the traps as an open top gate with a gate that allows access, but not the exit. After attracting the animals, they would then be shot by the hunters. His ministry is currently considering setting up such traps in the state forest in order to gain experience. This is to be part of a catalog of measures that Hauk intends to present to the Council of Ministers and then to the public at the beginning of February. "There will also be things in there that call animal rights activists on the scene," said the CDU politician. But the risk of the virus spreading from Eastern European countries to Germany and spreading to breeding pigs here is very high.

Hauk, who is a forest scientist himself, estimates that even more harsh hunting will reduce the number of wild boar by ten or twenty percent: “We cannot send hordes of hunters into the forest either.” Nevertheless, he also wants the specifications for wild boar hunting loosen and suspend the closed season for the animals in March and April. Hauk: "We have to use the whole year, now it’s about killing as many animals as possible."

He also wants to create better hunting conditions through the approval of night vision devices. “I propose that night vision technology can be combined with the aiming technology of the weapon.” Such attachments would be screwed in front of the telescopic sight, but hunters in Germany have not yet been allowed to use them. The use of night vision technology is legally possible, but night sights have so far been prohibited. According to Hauk, the Agriculture Ministers’ Conference decided on Thursday at its meeting in Berlin to ask the federal government to examine the provisions of the law on weapons.

In order not to offer the wild boars any retreat, Hauk wants to allow hunting in protected areas: "Hunting must be possible everywhere, we cannot exclude any areas." Last but not least, he relies on a comprehensive information campaign for people who frequently come from countries in which African swine fever has already broken out, such as Poland or the Czech Republic. Hauk: "We try to reach truck drivers and seasonal workers to make them aware of the danger." The motorway service stations should better be separated by fences so that wild boars do not enjoy the waste. Hauk: "In many cases there are fences that you have to check for game-proofness, and where there aren’t any, you have to build them."

Most of the measures proposed by Hauk are supported by the Greens. For example, the forest and wildlife policy spokesman for the Greens in the Landtag, Reinhold Pix, advocates greater hunting of wild boars in protected areas, the use of traps and night vision devices. "These are complementary options and should be tried," he told our newspaper. He only does not consider the softening of the closed season to be sensible: "Because year-round hunting results in significantly increased populations and greater damage caused by browsing in the forest." According to the qualified forester, it is also essential that "adult brooks" shoot will. These are female adult animals that can give birth to numerous newborns.

The virus has not yet been detected in Germany. To date, there is no vaccine against the contagious disease, which is not dangerous for humans but kills pigs. It is transmitted through direct contact with animals, food waste or contaminated objects. Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt (CSU) announced on Thursday that the swine fever regulation would be tightened. This provides for "disinfection measures on a larger scale".