7 Febbraio 2019

Italy turns to ancient weapons for latest assault in its boar war

HUNTERS could be encouraged to use bows and arrows to cull wild boar in an Italian region where the population of the animals has exploded. The wild boar are already culled using rifles, but officials in Lombardy in northern Italy say there are now so many of the beasts that other means of controlling them must be considered. The issue was highlighted last month when a herd of wild boar crossing a motorway caused a multiple crash in which one person died and 10 others were injured. Critics have described the initiative, put forward by the Right-wing League party, as “barbaric”. However, the regional government of Lombardy yesterday approved a motion which, if it becomes law, will allow the use of bows. Bow hunting of boars is already popular in the United States and parts of Australia, where feral pigs are a threat to farmland and native wildlife. Lombardy, which extends from the flat lands of the Po Valley to the Alps on the Swiss border, is undergoing a “wild boar emergency”, according to the regional administration. Officials are also calling for hunters to be able to kill boars outside the official hunting season. The proliferation of boar necessitates “the application of all means provided by the law in order to tackle the increase in damage done to people and to agriculture,” the regional politicians declared. The problem has become worse in the past two years with farmers becoming increasingly worried about the effect on their crops. The animals, which are also moving closer to homes, break down fences and invade roads, causing injury to people and damage to their cars. The prospect of hunters armed with bows and arrows was likened by one Italian newspaper to Robin Hood and his Merry Men. However, it was criticised by wildlife groups as well as Codacons, a national consumer watchdog. “It represents a return to barbarity and will allow archer-hunters to go around killing animals,” the organisation said. “It is necessary to limit the population but hunting them in this barbaric way is not the solution.” There are an estimated one million wild boars in Italy. Rome’ s failure to adequately collect its rubbish means the capital has become a favoured haunt of the animals. Some residents have taken to feeding them while others curse the danger to traffic. City officials announced last month that they want to hire marksmen to shoot the boars with tranquilliser darts. They would then be relocated to the countryside or put down. Boars are considered to be a problem in other parts of Europe, too. Last week, Denmark started building a 43-mile fence along its border with Germany to keep out wild boar amid fears that they could transmit African swine fever to domestic pigs, which would prove calamitous to Denmark’ s pork industry which is worth around 4billion (£3.5 billion) a year.
nick squires in rome

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