- BBC World, @bbc_ciencia
The wild boars that roam the forests of eastern Germany are considered a delicacy, making them a game.
But according to the Saxon State Secretary for the Environment, one in three wild boars has high levels of the radioactive element cesium 137 and is unfit for human consumption.
The origin of its contamination seems to be more than a thousand kilometers away, in the Ukraine.
According to experts, the radioactive material would have reached the Saxon region after the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in 1986.
Wind and rain took care of transporting it across Europe.
Cesium 137 existed, while other more volatile elements, or with less persistence, disappeared.
According to experts, wild boars are especially vulnerable because they scratch the ground in search of food and feed on mushrooms and truffles that store radiation.
But this diet depends on the season. This is why radioactivity levels fluctuate throughout the year.
From autumn to spring it is especially high.
Instead, «in spring and summer they have a mainly vegetarian diet; they eat in the fields of cereals and corn,» he told the German newspaper. picture Steffen Richter, President of the Saxon State Hunters’ Association.
Hunters have to do a radiation test on all the wild boars they kill.
«The state government has formed a surveillance network in the region since 2012, because it rained here after the radioactive disaster,» Richter explained.
Corpses that exceed the safety limit of 600 becquerels (the units that measure radioactive activity) per kilo must be destroyed, and this is explained by the state environmental agency on its website.
To compensate the hunters, the authorities pay the cost of removing the contaminated carcasses.
Experts estimate that with levels of cesium 137 still being detected, the problem will last for many years.
This radioactive element is dangerous because it is long-lived and travels easily through the food chain, continuing to emit particles for centuries.
Therefore, its effect on the environment can be far-reaching.