The carcasses of five wild boar were discovered on a beach in Brittany yesterday, reigniting fears that "killer" seaweed, generated by farm pollution, could pose a threat to human health on the Breton coast this northern summer.
The five dead animals bring to a total of 15 the number of dead boar found on the same beach in Saint-Brieuc bay over the past three weeks.
The collapse, and death, of a horse on a nearby beach two summers ago provoked an outcry in France about the failure of the Government to tackle a "green tide" of seaweed, which has choked north Breton beaches for more than a decade.
Investigations are continuing into the death two years ago of a man employed to cart away the weed, which generates toxic fumes of hydrogen sulphide when it rots. Studies have concluded the weed, though present naturally, has been prompted to swell to gigantic proportions by the nitrogen flowing into estuaries from intensive pig and cereal farms in central Brittany.
The five dead boar, two adults and three babies, were found lying on the mud of a river estuary at Morieux, near Saint-Brieuc, yesterday. Eight dead animals were found nearby on Monday and two others on July 8.
"We are very worried. How could we be anything other than worried when animals are being found dead?" said the Mayor of Morieux, Jean-Pierre Briens.
Environmental campaigners were furious when authorities said the deaths of the first two wild boar were caused by the animals swallowing too much mud while grazing at low tide. The beach was, nonetheless, closed. A more elaborate autopsy has been ordered for all the animals found this week.
Andre Olivro, president of a local protest group, said yesterday: "Next time, we are scared it will be a child."