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ASF Belgium: Shooting of remaining wild boar will start

All remaining live wild boar in the infected area with African Swine Fever in southern Belgium will be shot over the next weeks and months. That was decided by the government of Wallonia, the southern part of Belgium.

African Swine Fever (ASF) has been around in the southern Belgian province of Luxembourg, part of Wallonia, since September 2018. Ever since, following European legislation, the infected area has been locked off as much as possible, monitoring was intensified and dead wild boar have been removed immediately to avoid further spread.

Wild boar will soon be hunted inside the ASF infected zone. Photo: Shutterstock
Wild boar will soon be hunted inside the ASF infected zone. Photo: Shutterstock

René Collin, minister of e.g. Agriculture, Nature and Forestry in the Walloon government, stated that the entire wild boar population of the so-called Zone II (the infected zone) will have to be shot. This will be done by the authorities’ own forest rangers, as officially the hunting season will only start by 1 July. In Zone I, which is an intensified observation zone surrounding the infected zone, all hunters will be allowed access.

821 positive cases for ASF since September

In recent weeks and months, the number of reports to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has steadily been reducing. Last week, 6 wild boar were found infected, which fits into the pattern since 1 April of on average 10 reports per week. At the beginning of March, reporting reached its zenith with 67 reports in one week. In total, 821 wild boar were found positive for ASF since September 2019, according to OIE data.

Since 6 April, the general public has been allowed back into the 16,000 ha large infected area for recreational purposes. This was a development that was not applauded by the pig producing community in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium where the vast majority of the country’s pig industry is located.

The general public was asked, however, to prepare properly and comply with hygiene advices, like e.g. stick to paths, not bring any meat products, dispose of garbage in bins, and cleanse bike wheels and shoes properly after a visit.

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Czech Republic managed to eradicate ASF

It is unclear how ASF entered Belgium, but since it is a stand-alone area in Europe, the thing that is clear is that human behaviour caused its spread. The most often heard theory is that the virus brought in with illegal wild boar transports from Eastern Europe for trophy hunting purposes.

So far, the Czech Republic has been the only country in recent years to have eradicated the virus. There an approach of containment within a certain zone, followed by controlled culling of the entire population proved to be effective. The Czech Republic was officially declared free from ASF in February 2018, with in total 221 wild boar having died of the virus.