A war between farmers and wild boars is threatening the fate of one of France's most famous—and stinkiest—cheeses. As The Telegraph reports, free-roaming swine in the country's Haut-Rhin department are destroying cow pastures used to produce authentic Munster fromage. To safeguard their livelihood, cheese producers are now calling for hunters to cull the local pig population.
Creamy and pungent, Munster cheese is made from the protein-rich milk of Vosgiennes cows. (It's very different from the mass-produced muenster slices you find in your local supermarket, despite the similar name.) Farmers who produce Munster cheese must follow a slew of regulations to ensure its authenticity—including one stating that at least 70 percent of the cows' food must be locally produced. But wild boars indirectly compete with bovines for grub when they trample through and uproot pastures in search of acorns, tubers, and bugs.
A recent explosion in Haut-Rhin's wild boar population has led to increased damage, with farmers reporting that the pesky animals have affected 60 percent of the region's pastures. Making matters worse, the rampaging animals taint hay with droppings and dust instead of simply destroying the grass. This lowers the quality of cow milk and results in an inferior cheese product.
Electric fences haven't deterred the hungry swine, and the regional state prefect hasn't responded to a letter sent by farmers asking for help. So now, they're taking matters into their own hands: "I'm asking the hunters to shoot more [wild boars]," said local official Philippe Iltis, according to The Telegraph. "They must do their work and bring the population down."
[h/t The Telegraph]