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Poland wants to build a $90 million fence spanning its eastern border to ward off sick boars

Poland wants to build a $90 million fence spanning its eastern border to ward off sick boars
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WARSAW — The Polish government is to build one of the world’s longest fences, stretching almost the entire length of the country’s eastern border, to protect it from a marauding and disease-carrying migrant population… of wild boar.

Stretching for 1239 kilometres and following Poland’s border with Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, the galvanized steel fence is aimed at keeping out wild boar carrying African swine fever.

Costing an estimated CAD$90 million, construction is due to start at the end of the year, and, if all goes to plan, it should stand in the way of boars from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains by the end of 2020.

It will stand two metres high and be buried into the ground to stop industrious boar simply tunnelling under it.

The plan comes amid calls for culls in France and Germany where fears have been raised that swelling boar populations are also carrying diseases and destroying farming pastures.

Although not dangerous to humans, African Swine Fever can devastate pig populations owing to a mortality rate that can hit 100 per cent. It therefore poses a serious risk to Poland’s lucrative and expanding pork industry. The disease is endemic in the Russian Federation, with no vaccine against it.

“The fence must be built so that we are safe,” said Robert Telus, an MP from the governing Law and Justice Party and a member of the parliamentary rural development and agriculture committee. “We have to make sure wild boars do not enter the country, and that we keep our pig breeders safe.”

We have to make sure wild boars do not enter the country, and that we keep our pig breeders safe

Some experts, however, question the wisdom of building the fence.

“I doubt its effectiveness,” said Dr Tomasz Podgorski from the Mammal Research Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences. “The Belarusians have tried something similar and studies show that boars have no trouble getting through it.”

Powerful and intelligent animals, boars can demonstrate remarkable tenacity and talent at getting through or round obstacles, especially if they stand in the way of a good meal.

Poland’s eastern border also crosses rivers and lakes, possibly providing boar with natural gaps in the fence.

Wild boars during feeding time at the Wild Boar Specialties farm. Photo taken near Mayerthorpe, Alberta on September 15, 2011. (Rick MacWilliam/EDMONTON JOURNAL)

Animal experts have also questioned the need for a fence given that there have already been incidents of swine fever in Poland. Since 2014 there have been a reported 108 cases of the disease in domestic pigs and 1,415 cases in boar.

In January, a German minister backed calls from the country’s farming association to cull 70 per cent of the Germany’s wild boars to prevent an outbreak of the fever.

In France, a rocketing local boar population in some areas has led to the destruction of pastures used for dairy cows. The situation got so bad that farmers in January called for culls after production of Munster cheese was said to be in peril.

 

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