Germany terrorised by swarms of radioactive boar

Tom Mendelsohn
84223080 300x231 Germany terrorised by swarms of radioactive boar

Credit: AFP

Do not adjust your set, that headline is not a joke. It may sound like the premise for a particularly insipid Arts Council movie, but it’s true: hundreds of thousands of crazed, glowing, mutant boars are at large in Germany’s forests.

They’ve always had a problem with sounders of boar terrorising their countryside, and the mild winters of the last few years have caused their population to explode. And now, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel, matters have taken a turn for the atomic.

The boar, none of which, I should add, are actually crazed, glowing or mutant, have long been known for their propensity to attack. Der Spiegel reports on several from this year alone:

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.

It’s the guy in wheelchair I feel sorry for.

Anyway, the trouble is that lots of these boars are contaminated by the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986, leaving them quite literally radioactive. And they’re multiplying: 650,000 were shot in the 08/09 season, smashing records. A mere 287,000 were shot the year before.

Sadly – or happily, depending on how millennial your viewpoint – the radiation is doing nothing to grossly increase the size of these boar. They aren’t growing mandibles or developing carapaces. In fact, the upshot is far more prosaic than my overactive imagination demands – the German government is having to pay additional compensation to hunters legally unable to flog the contaminated meat. Just under £400,000 in compensation was paid out to hunters in 2009 – a total more than four times higher than in 2007. Der Spiegel adds:

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.

The boars are being irradiated quite unspectacularly too. Vegetation – especially mushrooms and truffles – has a tendency to hold onto radiation, and the boars are eating those.

What’s worse, according to Joachim Reddemann, an expert on radioactivity in wild boar with the Bavarian Hunting Federation, the contamination isn’t likely to disappear soon.

“The problem has been at a high level for a long time,” he said. “It will likely remain that way for at least the next 50 years.”

What a boar.

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  • Dave Richardson

    Thanks. The local polish restaurant offers wild boar. Think I’ll be careful to ask about the origins before ordering.

  • andy taylor

    Boars or bores?

    Sorry , had to….

  • John Scott

    Hunter S Thompson, you left us too soon!

  • cramberepetita

    Love the light approach but what does it all mean? If you eat a wild boar with 7,000 becquerels per kilo within the next 50 years what happens? Is it connected to the huge amount of friends with thyroid problems? Most of Europe threw away their legumes the year of Chernobyl. What happens if they started munching the mushrooms in 1987? Why are we thinking of buying billions of pounds worth of Trident nuclear bombs if we all die if we use them? I resent buying a £2 cabbage from Tescos if it’s gonna do me in. It’s all crazy. I could die laughing.

  • JTF

    Soooo…why can’t Europe or Germany sue Russia over this massive mistake that is still causing problems to both humans and the ecosystem?

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