Earlier this month GlobalMeatNews reported that the European Commission and the Lithuanian government were considering backing significant hunting and trapping campaigns to reduce wild boar numbers in regions where these animals have contracted ASF.
They had asked the EFSA to investigate the idea, with Lithuania also asking for advice on using fencing and organised feeding to control boar movements.
In a scientific report published by EFSA yesterday (18 March), it said: "No evidence was found in scientific literature proving that wild boar populations can be drastically reduced by hunting or trapping in Europe." This was due to the adaptive behaviour of the wild boar, compensatory growth of the population and the possible influx of wild boar from adjacent areas, it said.
It said wild boar density thresholds for the introduction, spread and persistence of ASF were currently "impossible to establish". "Furthermore, attempts to drastically reduce wild boar populations may even increase transmission and facilitate progressive geographical spread of ASF, since intensive hunting pressure on wild boar populations leads to dispersion of groups and individuals."
The report claimed that artificial feeding may also increase the risk of spread, and while fencing could restrict movements, further knowledge of the ASF epidemiology and spatial distribution of wild boar was required to identify the areas where fencing could be used as one element of a control programme.
At the end of January 2014, two cases of ASF were discovered in the wild boar population in Lithuania, at the border with Belarus. Additional cases were then reported in Poland in an area also bordering Belarus.