Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Sat Jul 31 15:46:48 CDT 2010

This seems rather incredible but was carried by Der Spiegel - does anyone
have independent source to verify this claim of radioactive wild boars
resulting from Chernobyl?

Charles Hawley reports:

"As Germany's wild boar population has skyrocketed in recent years, so too
has the number of animals contaminated by radioactivity left over from the
Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Government payments compensating hunters for
lost income due to radioactive boar have quadrupled since 2007.

"It's no secret that Germany has a wild boar problem. Stories of marauding
pigs hit the headlines with startling regularity: Ten days ago, a wild boar
attacked a wheelchair-bound man in a park in Berlin; in early July, a pack
of almost two dozen of the animals repeatedly marched into the eastern
German town of Eisenach, frightening residents and keeping police busy; and
on Friday morning, a German highway was closed for hours after 10 wild boar
broke through a fence and waltzed onto the road.

"Even worse, though, almost a quarter century after the Chernobyl nuclear
meltdown in Ukraine, a good chunk of Germany's wild boar population remains
slightly radioactive -- and the phenomenon has been costing the German
government an increasing amount of money in recent years.

"According to the Environment Ministry in Berlin, almost €425,000 ($555,000)
was paid out to hunters in 2009 in compensation for wild boar meat that was
too contaminated by radiation to be sold for consumption. That total is more
than four times higher than compensation payments made in 2007."

* *07/30/2010

A Quarter Century after Chernobyl Radioactive Boar on the Rise in Germany

By Charles Hawley


*'Boar Boom'*

...The reason for the climbing goverrnment payments, of course, has more to
do with Germany's skyrocketing wild boar population than with an increase in
radioactive contamination. "In the last couple of years, wild boar have
rapidly multiplied," a spokesman from the Environment Ministry confirmed to
SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Not only is there more corn being farmed, but warmer
winters have also contributed to a boar boom."

Numbers from the German Hunting Federation confirm the population increase.
In the 2008/2009 season, a record number of boar were shot, almost 650,000
against just 287,000 a year previously.

Many of the boar that are killed land on the plates of diners across
Germany, but it is forbidden to sell meat containing high levels of
radioactive caesium-137 -- any animals showing contamination levels higher
than 600 becquerel per kilogram must be disposed of. But in some areas of
Germany, particularly in the south, wild boar routinely show much higher
levels of contamination. According to the Environment Ministry, the average
contamination for boar shot in Bayerischer Wald, a forested region on the
Bavarian border with the Czech Republic, was 7,000 becquerel per kilogram.
Other regions in southern Germany aren't much better.

Germany's Atomic Energy Law, which regulates the use of nuclear energy in
the country, mandates that the government in Berlin pay compensation to
hunters who harvest contaminated animals.

*Contaminated Wild Pig*

Wild boar are particularly susceptible to radioactive contamination due to
their predilection for chomping on mushrooms and truffles, which are
particularly efficient at absorbing radioactivity. Indeed, whereas
radioactivity in some vegetation is expected to continue declining, the
contamination of some types of mushrooms and truffles will likely remain the
same, and may even rise slightly -- even a quarter century after the
Chernobyl accident.

"In the regions where it is particularly problematic, all boar that are shot
are checked for radiation," reports Andreas Leppmann, from the German
Hunting Federation. There are 70 measuring stations in Bavaria alone.

In addition, for the last year and a half, Bavarian hunters have been
testing ways to reduce the amount of caesium-137 absorbed by wild boar. A
chemical mixture known as Giese salt, when ingested, has been shown to
accelerate the excretion of the radioactive substance. Giese salt, also
known as AFCF, is a caesium binder and has been used successfully to reduce
radiation in farm animals after Chernobyl. According to Joachim Reddemann,
an expert on radioactivity in wild boar with the Bavarian Hunting
Federation, a pilot program in Bavaria that started a year and a half ago
has managed to significantly reduce the number of contaminated animals.

Government compensation payments to hunters remain a small part of the €238
million recompense the German government has shelled out for damages
relating to Chernobyl since reactor IV exploded on April 26, 1986.
Furthermore, there is some relief in sight. Even as wild boar continue to
show a fondness for making the headlines, the recent hard winter has had its
effect on population numbers. So far this year, Berlin has only had to pay
out €130,000 for radioactive boar.

But radioactivity in wild boar isn't likely to disappear soon. "The problem
has been at a high level for a long time," says Reddemann. "It will likely
remain that way for at least the next 50 years."

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