Poles divided over wild boar cull

A decision by the government to cull wild boar to stop the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) has led to protests from animal welfare and environmental activists and some resistance from the hunting fraternity.

The government authorized cull is to begin this Saturday. The government is anxious in election year to be seen actively combating ASF that is threatening Poland’s pig farmers. Back in November last year the Ministry of Environment appealed to hunters to “intensively cull wild boar in order to achieve a maximum possible fall in the numbers of the species”.

Mass protests have sprung up at the news that in January the cull is to affect 200,000 animals. The Polish Hunters Association argues it is a target that could be achieved over one whole year. They cite the fact that the annual target from April 2018 to March 2019 was 185,000 of which 165,000 have been culled in the present period.  

The Ministry of Environment, in response to protests by environmentalists, denied there was a target of 200,000 and that wild boar would only be hunted in a buffer zone that will divide the regions to which ASF has spread from those which have not been affected by the virus. 

The cull is to be attractive financially for the hunters. They will receive 300 PLN for a boar and 650 PLN for a sow. 

Hunters concerned

The cull is proving divisive among the hunting fraternity. Some are refusing to participate or threatening to simulate because they object to hunting animals without paying respect to hunting ethics that do not allow for hunting sow just before giving birth or just after they have done so. 

Environmentalists argue that the cull is a political act. They say that the ruling conservatives want to win support of the farmers and that the money spent on the cull would be better used in financing veterinarians.

The language in the debate has become highly emotive with the cull portrayed as “extermination”.  A demonstration against the action was held outside Parliament and over 240,000 people have already signed a petition protesting the mass cull. 

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