Monday, August 9, 2010

Radioactive Boars

Spiegel Online
Missouri has a feral hog problem which has increased over recent years which we discuss below.  So far the damage hasn't reached the levels seen in Germany where the boars all but glow!
Hunting native wild boar in Europe has been a sport for thousands of years there, and its meat is still a popular menu item.  Spiegel On Line reports that in recent years, an increasing number of boars are contaminated with radiation, the results of the fallout of Ce-137 from the Chernobyl disaster in nearby Ukraine.
Boar are fond of mushrooms and truffles which are particularly efficient at absorbing radioactivity, even as other vegetation's cesium-137 levels are falling.  By German law, the government must compensate hunters who shoot boar subsequently testing out with high radioactive levels.  This payout doubled to $550,000 last year.
Increasing numbers of wild boar are occurring across Germany.  Last year 650,000 wild boar were shot, breaking the previous record of 287,000.  This population explosion is attributed to milder winters and the increasing growth of corn on farms. Human encounters are becoming much more common.  "Boars have stormed churches, chased police, rampaged through stores and living rooms, knocked an elderly woman off a bicycle, attacked a wheelchair-bound man, dug up corpses, and caused as many as 25,000 traffic accidents a year."
Feral Hog- Click to enlarge

Back to Missouri
Our feral hogs are genetically a mix of breeds, combinations of Russian or Eurasian wild boar (razorbacks) and an assortment of domestic varieties.  The population has been expanding over the last 20 years as European wild boar were raised for hunting in licensed shooting areas. Many hogs escaped or were released on public land, and by 2000 private landowners were complaining of damage. Hunters are encouraged to shoot feral hogs on sight. This MDC article goes into more detail.

Feral hogs cause a lot of agricultural damage as well as soil disturbance and they even devour wildlife such as ground nesting birds and fawns.  Best classed as omnivores, feral hogs eat about anything they find, including sheep and goats. They are frequently attracted to birthing areas and most often take lambs or kids. They consume these newborn animals so completely that there often is little evidence that birthing and predation have occurred.
Of potentially greater economic damage, they can transmit diseases such as pseudorabies and swine brucellosis to domestic hogs.  Infection in a domestic farm's population could require destruction of the whole herd,  which occurs around six times a year in the US.  Swine brucellosis has been found in wild pigs in ten states and is known as undulant fever in humans.

Everything you need to know about Feral Hogs of Missouri is at the MDC Feral Hogs site.

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