Swine fever regulations to stay due to continued wild boar cases

Wild boar in Estonia.
Wild boar in Estonia. Source: Aimar Rakko/Environment Agency

While Estonian pig farms have been free of African Swine Fever (ASF) for two years, there are no plans to relax regulations or inspections on pig farms as cases have still been found among the country's wild boar stock.

As reported on ERR News, both the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) and the Estonian Hunters' Society (EJS) said recently that over two years had passed since ASF had been detected on farms.

Thousands of farm pigs have been inspected in Estonia in 2019, with no ASF cases found, but cases of ASF were found among wild boar early this year, in Lääne County, on Saaremaa as well as in Ida-Viru county.

Two zones are in place; mainland Estonia, together with Saaremaa, will remain in the stricter zone two ERR reports.

Hiiumaa, Estonia's second island, where no cases of ASF have been detected either in domestic or feral pigs, will remain in zone one, which is used as a buffer zone around the second.

"As the disease is still found in wild boar both on the mainland and on Saaremaa, it is not possible to convert the zone two area into a zone one area," Maarja Kristjan, Animal Health and Welfare Advisor at the VTA, told ERR Tuesday.

An Environmental Board (Keskonnaamet) decree last year set quotas by county for wild boar hunting, which according to Kristjan have proved successful.

Solutions to increasing hunting effectiveness have included increasing the current figure of five kilograms per animal of feed used as a lure.

Zone restrictions

Restrictions within the first zone include intensive supervision of pig farms, movement of live pigs permissible only following proper inspections, and inspection of wild boar stock before hunting for commercial meat sales.

Within the second zone, where ASFG has been detected in wild boar stock, even tougher restrictions are in place for the movement of live pigs as well as stricter inspections on pig farms and with wild boar stock.

ASF continues to propagate in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, with around 140,000 domestic pigs being slaughtered this year, according to ERR.

The disease devastated the pig farming sector in Estonia 2014-2018, with the number of farms in the country falling from over 900 to just over 100, according to some reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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