OSLO, May 8 (Xinhua) -- In a controversial decision, Norway's agriculture minister has said he would have 2,200 wild reindeer killed in the country's southern mountain region of Nordfjella in an attempt to stop chronic wasting disease, public broadcaster NRK reported Monday.
"It is perhaps the hardest decision I have taken as minister for agriculture and I am sure many will question it," Jon Georg Dale was quoted as saying.
Dale is acting on the advice of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority who told his ministry to quickly slaughter all reindeer in Nordfjella to stop the spread of the illness, NRK reported.
"This is a difficult decision, because we know that we are most likely to get new reindeer with the disease. It is, however, still necessary to eradicate the infection in the area," he said.
The minister emphasized that the professional advice from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety was so clear that he believed it was an unavoidable decision.
"I have had a meeting with all three of the agencies more than once to make sure there are no other options," Dale said.
The three agencies wrote that the chance of successfully eliminating the disease would be significantly reduced if the slaughter had not been completed within a year.
The exterminations will probably start during summer this year, he announced.
"I will not, finally, conclude how we choose to do this. It is possible to look into several ways, either with hunting, combining hunting and mobile slaughterhouse, or just the last," Dale said.
In addition, a concrete plan must be prepared as to how to reconstruct the wild reindeer herd as quickly as possible.
The wild reindeer herd in Nordfjella consists of an estimated 2,200 animals, which makes up 10 percent of the Norwegian wild reindeer herd.
Chronic wasting disease was detected last year in three wild reindeer in Nordfjella and in two moose in the county of South Trondelag. There are no other known cases of the disease in Europe.