The Spiegel report mentions that German government payments compensating hunters for lost income due to radioactive wild boar meat have quadrupled since 2007. Last year alone, $555,000 was paid to hunters who found themselves with inedible boar meat, due to its radioactivity. The hunters would have otherwise sold the meat, but it was deemed unfit for human consumption.
But the problem isn't just radioactivity. Despite the contamination, wild boars are multiplying in record numbers.
"In the last couple of years, wild boar have rapidly multiplied," a spokesman from the Environment Ministry told Spiegel Online. "Not only is there more corn being farmed, but warmer winters have also contributed to a boar boom."
The German Hunting Federation supports this claim. During the 2008/2009 hunting season, approximately 650,000 wild boar were shot, breaking previous records for such kills. Only 287,000 were shot the prior season, suggesting that fewer of these animals were around for the competitive hunters to target.
Wild boar remains a popular meat in Germany, where it's found in everything from stews to meatballs. Diners don't seem to be too deterred by the nuclear contamination scare, but the governmental reports on the meat aren't very appetizing. Spiegel mentions that Germany forbids anyone to sell meat containing high levels of radioactive caesium-137, meaning that animals with contamination levels of 600 becquerel per kilogram or higher must not be eaten. Some meat in Southern Germany has been measured at 7,000 becquerel per kilogram, however.
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Although the radioactivity has been detected in other animals, such as birds, wild boar are more susceptible to contamination because they often eat mushrooms and truffles that absorb the harmful radioactivity. The radioactivity, in turn, can remain in the soil for years. In fact, levels in mushrooms and truffles are predicted to rise in the not too distant future.
(Truffles; Image: Poppy)