Denmark completes contentious fence along German border

The fence is meant to prevent wild boar from spreading swine fever to Denmark's lucrative pork industry. But critics say it won't work and is a symbolic gesture.


Author Chase Winter, Deutsche Welle (Germany) 

Date 02.12.2019


Denmark on Monday completes a controversial fence along the border with Germany to protect its giant pork industry from wild boar that could carry African swine fever.


Around 5,000 pig farms export 28 million pigs annually, accounting for half of Danish agricultural exports and 5% of all exports, according to the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.


Why is the fence controversial?


The 1.5-meter tall and half-meter deep fence cost €11 million ($12 million). It runs along the entirety of the Danish-German border, from the Wadden Sea in the west to the Flensburg Fjord in the east.


Critics say it is a waste of money that won't work against a problem that doesn't exist, while environmentalists have raised concerns about its impact on the ecosystem. The fence is also symbolic for the Danish right-wing keen on hard borders and keeping migrants out.


How will it affect the environment?


Environmental groups are concerned that construction of the fence will disturb the migration of wild animals and birds, some of which are protected by Danish and EU legislation.


"We know from experiences around the world that physical barriers such as a fence impact animal migration," Thor Hjarsen, senior biologists at World Wildlife Foundation in Denmark, told DW last year after the Environment Ministry signed off on the fence construction.


Deer, wolves, otters, foxes, golden jackals and cranes are among the species that could be impacted.


Will the fence work?


Denmark is part of the EU's border-free Schengen Zone. Roads and railroads crossing the border won't be impacted by the fence. That leaves dozens of openings in the border through which wild boar could pass.


"The problem with the fence is that there is no documentation that it works," Hans Kristensen, a hunter, wildlife author and expert on wild boar migration who lives along the border, told DW last year. "On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence it won't work."


Wild boar are distributed along the eastern coast of the Danish-German border and are very rare in the west, Kristensen said. In the east, the wild boar can swim across the Flensburg Fjord, a body of water separating Germany and Denmark.


"A fence can't be erected there. That is part of the border where they cross," he said.


Symbolic for the far-right ...


How big a threat is swine fever? ...


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