Boars roam Czech mountains after eating mushrooms contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster

Wild boar is a delicacy in Czech Republic. Photo /123RF
Wild boar is a delicacy in Czech Republic. Photo /123RF

Wild boar is a popular local delicacy in the Czech Republic but fans of the meat have an unusual problem on their hands this winter - the boars are radioactive.

The boars became contaminated by one of their most popular food sources - false truffles.

A cold and snowy winter is forcing them to feed on false truffles, an underground mushroom common in the Sumava mountain region between the Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany - where wild boars roam free.

The mushrooms can absorb high levels of the radioactive isotope Caesium 137. And three decades ago the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl released a fair amount of Caesium 137 that eventually drifted down on the Sumava mountains.

Now the boars are eating the mushrooms, and ingesting the Caesium 137 along with them.

Eating the mushrooms is making their meat radioactive, Jiri Drapal at the State Veterinary Administration told Reuters. "It is more or less a seasonal issue," Drapal said.

And due to the fact that the isotope stays radioactive for decades, the boars may be glowing for years to come.

The half life of Caesium 137 is 30 years - meaning it takes 30 years for the radioactivity of the isotope to fall to half its original value. Then another 30 to fall to half again, and so on.

"We can expect to find (affected) food for a number of years from now," Drapal said.

And that could cause some problems with the supply of boar meat, which is popular in the Czech Republic.

It often shows up on restaurant menus in goulash, a thick stew made from meat, sauce and dumplings.

Any boar that ends up as goulash ought to be safe, as not just boars, but any wild animal that is hunted, must be inspected before its meat can get to customers.

Radioactive meat is banned from circulation, Drapal said.

However, it isn't all good news - the bad news is that 614 animals were inspected from 2014 to 2016, and 47 percent were above the limit - almost half, which means that wild boar meat will be in short supply.

However, even meat from radioactive animals would be a health hazard only in large doses, Drapal said.

You would have to eat it several times a week for couple of months, to get sick, he added.

- Daily Mail

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