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While US politicians continue to take the idea of building a border wall seriously, Denmark is preparing its own controversial border barrier for southern border control.
The target is wild boar – especially wild boar from Germany. Environmentalists warn, however, that the planned, five-meter-high, 40-mile fence will damage the wildlife of the region and may not even fulfill the function it was intended for.
Understanding the reasons that $ 12 million will be spent on a fence that may not work requires understanding the enormity of the Danish pork industry. In Denmark there are at least twice as many pigs as humans at any given time (about 12 million pigs to not quite 6 million Danes). The country's export market for pigs amounts to about five billion dollars a year.
At the farm of Berith Nissen in southern Denmark, visitors need to change their clothes and socks, wash their hands and slip into borrowed shoes before opening the door to open some of their over 10,000 pigs.
"We need to make sure we do not take any diseases in the barn," she explains.
There are many swine diseases to worry about, but to keep one nits overnight at night is African swine fever (ASF). It has not met Denmark yet, but last autumn it came across several wild boars in Belgium. Outbreaks are becoming more common in China and parts of Eastern Europe.
Sidsel Overgaard for NPR
The disease poses no risk to human health, but it is deadly to pigs. An outbreak on a farm like Nissens would mean expelling the entire herd. It is so serious that if only one wild boar were found in Denmark with ASF, the country's pork exports to most countries outside Europe would come to a complete standstill, representing a potential loss of about $ 1.5 billion a year would mean.
Under the rules of the European Union Danish farmers Operation at a distance that is considered a safe distance from the outbreak could resume the sale within Europe. But so much redirected pork would flood the European market and probably lead to a fall in prices. Nissen says this scenario could cost her half a million dollars a year. She is already feeling the pressure that Belgian farmers will have to keep their product in Europe because of the outbreak.
When ASF enters a new area, as in Belgium, it is most likely due to humans. In a public film, the European Food Safety Authority shows how hunters, farmers or even careless picnickers can spread the disease through contaminated equipment or food. If the virus is not present (according to the lengthy EU regulations), the virus can spread to boars at a rate of 5 to 10 miles per year from boar to boar or boar.
And here comes the fence. Construction is The start was scheduled for January 28th. Last year it started as a political idea, driven by the pig industry and the former Minister of Environment and Food Esben Lunde Larsen. But Bent Rasmussen, Senior Forester for South Denmark at the Danish Nature Agency, was the one who designed the fence.
He says an element of timing is needed as the wild boar population of Europe increases.  "There are many wild boars in Germany," he says. "But in Denmark there are not many wild boars."
So far, there are only about 100 or 200, he says. And because there are so few, it creates a window to prevent the spread of disease.
At the same time the fence keeps wild boars away, it must also allow other wildlife – and humans – to go free. 19659008] "It's not an easy task," admits Rasmussen. The proposed fence is so low that deer can skip, and small openings every 100 meters allow smaller mammals such as foxes, hares and otters to pass through.
But wildlife representatives claim that these solutions do not work. especially for larger animals such as the protected wild wolf, who recently returned to Denmark from Germany after a 200-year absence. The wolf needs a lot of space to walk, and conservationists fear that environmental testing was too hurry to see how the fence affects its migration patterns and interactions with people and traffic.
Sidsel Overgaard for NPR
And there is even less evidence that the fence will actually stop the boars. There are large gaps through which roads and roads intersect – and boars can even swim, meaning that these animals could easily cross the narrow fjord separating Denmark from Germany.
The fence is combined with other action such as game cameras public awareness campaigns and almost unlimited boar hunting. Advocates argue that anything that reduces the risk of disease is worth a try. Others, however, believe that the fence misses the point.
"We're trying politically to build a fence to feel safe," explains Danish hunter and forestry engineer Hans Kristensen. "The problem of feeling safer comes at a cost – the costs are in nature and the costs in the neighborhood [relations] between Denmark and Germany – we create problems that we do not have to have."
The Danish- The German border was historically fluent. The current location is less than 100 years old. Like many people in southern Denmark, Kristensen has friends and relationships on both sides, and the fence is another symbol of isolationism.
"We should not try to find a solution only for Denmark," he says. "This is a problem across Europe, and we need to find a solution that includes Europe, rather than excluding [it]."