Poland wants troops, police to cull boars due to swine fever

WARSAW, Poland — Poland's agriculture minister on Wednesday proposed that army and police personnel should be allowed to shoot wild boars on a large scale in areas affected by the African swine fever, to help fight the disease that has been found in the west of the country after it seemed contained in the east.

Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski said proposed new legislation would also punish anyone obstructing the preventive killing of the animals in marked areas, such as environmentalists.

He said that without action to reduce the dense population of wild boar, the disease will keep spreading. Ardanowski stressed that the disease is not harmful to humans.

The disease appeared in Poland's east last year, believed to have been brought from neighboring Ukraine. Affected areas were fenced off at first but the disease spread and some 180,000 wild boar have been shot to contain it. The move was condemned by environmentalists, who tried to block it, while many hunters also objected.

The disease was found last week in a dead boar in a western region near the town of Wolsztyn where there are also many pig farms, some 110 kilometers (68 miles) from the German border. The area is being fenced off, but massive shootings are necessary, Ardanowski argued on state Polish Radio 1.

He said he will submit the draft law to parliament in coming weeks for swift processing. It was not clear when it could take effect, if approved.

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