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Christian Schmidt Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture arrives for talks to discuss forming a government with the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Berlin, Germany, January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke(reuters_tickers)
BERLIN (Reuters) - German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt is backing an "intelligent reduction" of Germany's growing wild boar population to prevent a further spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), the Rheinische Post newspaper reported on Friday.
The DBV German Farmers' Federation called for a 70-percent cut of the country's wild boar population, saying hunters should also be allowed to kill sows and newborn piglets, the newspaper said.
Germany, a major European Union pig producer, has been watching with growing concern reports of the highly contagious disease as it spreads westward across Europe. Wild boars have been found infected in the Czech Republic and Poland, and the disease can easily spread to pigs.
The disease is harmless to humans, but there is no vaccination to stop its spread in pigs.
Heightening the risk, Germany's wild boar population has also risen in recent years as increased corn production for biogas plants offer the animals more food and better shelter.
In the German capital of Berlin, playgrounds carry signs that say, "Keep gates closed to prevent wild boars from entering." Some German states offer financial incentives ranging up to 25 euros per wild boar to encourage more hunting.
The farmers' group plans to present recommendations in Berlin later on Friday to avert the spread of the highly contagious fever, including the use of dogs to sniff out food supplies during border checks and increased disinfection of transport vehicles used by pig farmers.
Schmidt told the paper that it made sense to cull the wild boar population and lift limits on when the animals can be hunted. "An intelligence reduction of the wild boar population plays an important role in prevention," he said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler)