Norway considers ‘boar-proof fence’ along border with Sweden

<span>Up to 2,000 wild boars face slaughter in Norway under the plan.</span><span>Photograph: László Balogh/Reuters</span>
Up to 2,000 wild boars face slaughter in Norway under the plan.Photograph: László Balogh/Reuters

Norway could build a fence along its border with Sweden as part of a package of measures designed to eradicate its wild boar population after an outbreak of African swine fever in Sweden last year.

Up to 2,000 wild boars face slaughter in Norway under the plan submitted by the country’s food safety authority and its environment agency, on the grounds of the “great danger” boars pose to commercial pig farming.

As well as monitoring the population and its impact, the bodies also recommend improving the efficiency of wild boar hunting, allowing meat from shot wild boars to be sold, and introducing requirements for producers to implement a “boar-proof fence” to protect pigs reared outdoors.

Other measures could include building a fence on the Norwegian side of the border to prevent boars from crossing into the country from Sweden, where the population is estimated to be up to 300,000. Denmark successfully cut its wild boar population after installing a fence on its border with Germany.

African swine fever, a serious viral disease affecting wild boars and pigs but not humans, was found in dead wild boars near Fagersta, 90 miles (145km) north-west of Stockholm, in August and September.

However, Karl Ståhl, Sweden’s state epizootiologist, said there was currently “zero” risk of swine fever in Sweden after the last wild boar to test positive died in September, adding that the country has no active circulation of the disease.

The disease has been present in Europe since 2007 and the EU area since 2014.

Norway’s agriculture and food minister, Geir Pollestad, said earlier this month that authorities were working on “new and strengthened measures” to bring wild boar numbers as low as possible.

“If we get swine fever in Norway, it will have major consequences for those involved in pig production, but will also place major restrictions on the ability to hunt, [perform] forest operations and engage in outdoor activities in the areas affected by the infection,” he said.

Norway’s largest wild boar population is in Østfold, a county in the south-east that borders Sweden, but they have also been spotted in Innlandet, an agricultural county near Østfold, and farther north.

Ole-Herman Tronerud, Norway’s chief veterinary officer, said a fence on the border with Sweden could have an impact on wild boar population numbers, but that “a lot of investigating and information gathering” needed to be done first.

He added: “We have stated that the infection risk for ASF to Norway hasn’t increased as a result of the outbreak in Sweden in the short term, nor in the long term, as long as the outbreak can be contained in Sweden.”