The number of communes in the Strict Observation Zone in the Ardennes (Zone d’observation renforcé, ZOR), which was put in place to limit the spread of African Swine Fever in Belgium and the surrounding areas, has been halved. It was announced by the Prosecutor’s Office on Saturday.
Hunting and other leisure outdoor activities (walking, sport, gathering food) were banned in 43 communes in the Ardennes “after the first cases of African Swine Fever were detected in mid-September”.
The cases detected at the start of the crisis in Belgium “were all concentrated around the area the infection originated from”. Because of this, the National French Agency for Health Security (Anses) decided to “reduce the size of the ZOR in the West”, according to a press release. 23 communes have been moved to the “Simple Observation Area”, but 22 others are still in the ZOR.
Belgium is the first Western European country to be affected by African Swine Fever, which was discovered in wild boar carcasses found in forest in the South of the country. No sick boars have been found on farms. France has not been hit by the disease yet. African Swine Fever affects pigs and boars and is transmitted through contact between animals.
Allowing hunting in the communes that have just been taken out of the ZOR should “reduce the number of boars in the short term”, says the Ardennes Prosecutor’s Office.