Snipers from the Belgian armed forces are to be brought in to slaughter wild boar in a region of the Luxembourg province affected by African swine fever, the government has announced. The outbreak of the disease has now been confirmed, and risks spreading not only to populations of wild boar in the region, but also to farmed pigs, which are also vulnerable to the disease.
So far, 15 bodies of wild boar have been determined to have died of the disease. A zone of 63,000 hectares has been closed off to prevent the disease spreading. In addition, some 4,000 pigs belonging to farmers will also be slaughtered.
But for those animals living in the wild, the problem is more difficult. They are accustomed to being hunted, and are more wary of humans than are farmed animals. Registered hunters will be brought in to do what they can, but federal public health minister Denis Ducarme has also called in the help of the armed forces, who may be less used to working in the woods, but who can bring to the job skills the average hunter lacks.
“Farmers in the affected area couldn’t go anywhere with their pigs any more,” explained Hendrik Vandamme of the farmers’ union. “Nobody wanted to have anything to do with them.”
The farmers affected will receive compensation from the government’s health fund, but the EU will also be approached to contribute to the cost of the loss of the animals – none of which can later be used for any commercial purpose.