Wild boars are often viewed as a symbol of good fortune in China, especially with the arrival of the Chinese Lunar Year of the Pig Tuesday. These increased sightings of wild boars in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, signal anything but “luck” to me.
As African swine fever (ASF) sweeps through China, an increasing wild boar population is the last thing the country needs. Unfortunately, droves of wild boars are infringing upon Hong Kong according to a recent Reuters article. These boars are causing a variety of issues from charging down hikers to raiding garbage at camp sites.
Sadly, community groups are campaigning for protection of these wild boars that have experienced a doubling of complaints since 2013, with over 700 incidents reported in 2017.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said some of these pigs “pose imminent risks to public safety, particularly those which have attacked people, or are accustomed to searching for food around built-up areas and also getting easily irritated.”
Unfortunately, the AFCD recently rejected a proposal to allow the selective culling of these boars by civilian hunting teams and instead, plan to take measures to put down, or relocate troublesome pigs to “wilder areas,” and to fit some with GPS trackers.
Not only are these wild boars getting into garbage, but people are feeding the boars table scraps, too. This is a big concern from an ASF transmission standpoint. ASF needs to be heated to 150°F for 30 minutes to be deactivated in meat products. The virus can also survive in cured meats for up to 150 days. With the increased ASF outbreaks, one can’t help but wonder how much of the Chinese pork supply is affected.
This is just one more example why knowledge is crucial to slowing down the spread of ASF. Fortunately, ASF is not contagious to humans, but the impact the disease could have on the pig industry is devastating.
As I listened to speakers at the K-State Swine Profitability Conference Tuesday, I was reminded that we can’t live in fear about the “what-if’s.” But, we can do our best to be prepared, become educated on the facts and share that knowledge with others.