The discovery of African swine fever among wild pig populations in Belgium has triggered a rush to build border fences in Denmark and France.
Denmark this week began building a 70km fence along its border with Schleswig-Holstein, the German state that is Denmark’s land link to the rest of Europe.
France is planning a 1.5m-high barrier to create a 78-sq-km boar free zone, to be enforced by the army and hunters to keep the area clear of wild pigs.
The disease, which is harmless to humans, has already disrupted the pork industry in China and Eastern Europe. Denmark is particularly at risk, as it is home to 5.5 million people and 29 million pigs, the latter earning around €4bn a year for the former.
Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, Denmark’s environment and food minister, commented: "The fence and our increased efforts to hunt wild boar will break the chain of infection so there is less risk of African swine fever spreading to Denmark."
No vaccination or treatment exist for the virus, and outbreaks often lead to export restrictions on pork – as has already been the case in Belgium.
Meanwhile, Poland is planning to cull 185,000 wild boar across the country, drawing protests from hunters that the measure was excessive.
Image: One of the widest ranging mammals in the world (Valentin Panzirsch/CC BY-SA 3.0)