In the news: Denmark plans to build a fence to keep out boar

Another border fence is being planned in Europe – this time in Denmark, and it is to keep out wild boar.

The fence will span the Danish-German border, covering 70km of country. It will reach 1.5m high and 50cm deep, which will prevent boar burrowing underneath. It is estimated to cost 10 million euros.

There has been concern about African Swine Fever, which has travelled from Africa and reached Europe in 2007. Wild boars are carriers of the disease, and although the disease has yet to reach either Germany or Denmark, the government are worried. The Danish pork industry is worth around 4 billion euros in exports (in 2016), so if African Swine Fever reached the farms it could the country a lot of money.

Criticisms of the border

The Danish government think it is worth spending 10 million euros on a fence to keep out the wild boar. However there have been a lot of criticisms. Wild boar do not inhabit the border area, but do live where the fence will end at the Flensburg Fjord in the east. They are perfectly capable of swimming this fjord to reach Denmark, should they wish.

The main risks to the pork industry are from human activities, not boar. Mainly contaminated vehicles used to transport livestock, and the people in the trade. In advance of this fence, Denmark will create high fines for improperly cleared trucks. But they will also allow more boar hunting.

Another suggestion is to develop a safe and effective vaccination for African Swine Fever, rather than fund a fence that has an impact on the environment.

Effect on other wildlife

The World Wildlife Fund released a statement showing concerns about the border fence:

“We are therefore greatly concerned about the impact of this fence and how it will affect the natural cross-border migration of shared populations of mammal species like European otter, the gray wolf, the golden jackal, the red fox, the Eurasian badger, the roe deer and the red deer.”

World Wildlife Fund

A suggestion

Aside from humans, the wolf is the main predator of the wild boar in Europe. The wild boar population is increasing in Europe because the wolf population is currently low. If we don’t fight the return of the wolf to Europe, the wolf can effectively control the boar population, and lower the risk of the boar spreading African Swine Fever. According to research 95% of infected wild boars are younger than 1.5 years. Coincidentally, this is the demograph of boar mostly preyed on by wolves.. young, sick animals.

You may remember in the news last month in May a wolf was shot dead by a hunter in Denmark. It was caught on film (see here) and shows that people still perceive the wolves as a threat.

The wolf has a place in the ecosystem, alongside other wildlife. Instead of building a fence to keep out large carnivores, let us work to coexist with these animals for a Wilder Europe.

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