Hunters actively monitor the Rhine forest between Rhinau and Marckolsheim. The goal: to avoid any risk that a wild boar infected with African swine fever, detected in the Rhine, would spread to France. A precaution above all, because this risk remains minimal.
Since this morning, Wednesday 1 June, Bas-Rhin hunters have been keeping a close eye on a stretch of forest 20 km long by 5 km wide, extending between Rhinau and Marckolsheim.
This relatively dense Rhine forest runs along fourteen cities across from Forchheim (Baden-Württemberg), a small German town where an outbreak of African swine fever was detected on a farm on the same day. May 25.
The goal of this surveillance is to rule out any risk that a wild boar, which may have approached a contaminated German farm, transmits the disease to the Alsatian side.
According to Frédéric Obry, president of the Bas-Rhin Hunter Federation, a very small risk. Indeed, the focus of the contagion in Germany is “well fenced and electrified”, This makes contact between wild animals and sick pigs very unlikely. “We are hedging 200%” he assures.
However, to rule out any, and thus support and reassure Alsatian pig farmers, the Bas-Rhin hunters have deployed a series of surveillance measures, in the hope of be able to salvage them as quickly as possible.
“Very contagious and deadly” African Swine Fever “lead to a quick death” Designate Frederic Obry. A contaminated boar will not last long.
Therefore, instructions were given to hunters, but also to fishermen, “If they happen to find a carcass of wild boar, immediately notify the Federation, or the Sagir network that collects animals found dead, to allow for their veterinary analysis.”
In this case, “Trained technicians will arrive on the scene, with gloves and overalls. They will take samples on site, then remove the carcass to determine its cause of death.”
But Frédéric Obry wanted peace of mind. Because since the discovery of the source of the Forchheim contamination, “No cases have been reported, both on the German side and on the French side.” On the German side, though, dogs specially trained to spot corpses have been taken to dangerous areas.
Another precautionary principle is to disturb the wild boars in this forest as little as possible, to discourage them from moving. In the immediate future, therefore, there is no doubt about holding the smallest hunt there. “Hunting would be a mistake not to make” believe the president of the federation. “We won’t move, we won’t go into the woods.”
Anyway, African swine fever is so contagious that one sick wild boar will quickly infect all the others. And “they will all die on the spot.”
Along with the idea of leaving the animals alone, hikers are also asked to avoid these twenty kilometers of forest in the coming days. “Fortunately, it’s not mushroom season” satirical Frédéric Obry.
On the other hand, the hunters who rented the many related forests would keep watch on the watchtowers, “at dawn and in the evening before sunset.” That means that every now and then the animals may, in spite of everything, want to go for a short walk.
Any boar that left the forest block to head towards the plains would be mercilessly killed. And her body analyzes, “always be on guard.”
“If we get about 50 of them and none of them have the slightest symptoms, we’ll know that everything is going well.” Frédéric Obry explains. In other words, the fear of contamination would have no reason to exist.
“The future will tell us very quickly” he hopes. According to him, an observation period of eight to ten days is more than enough, “without any risk.” And will reassure people, by confirming the idea that all danger has certainly been averted.