Wild boar emergency in Italy: how many there are, why they are dangerous and what happens now with the hunting amendment

He is discussing theFoti amendmentcontained in the budget law, which will make changes to the wildlife control procedures, i.e. to the practices that allow the containment of the number of wild animals that cause problems for human activities through the hunting. The proposal, which should serve to eliminate i boars in excess that also go into urban areas, was considered admissible. This despite the material that deviates from the content of the manoeuvre. And in addition to this, conflicts could arise with other rules, in particular with the European ones and those that regulate the protection of endangered species.

What does the amendment to the budget law on hunting in the city provide for?

The amendment was presented by the deputy Thomas Photosgroup leader of Brothers of Italy in the House and was approved in the Budget Commission on 21 December. It introduces a modification to the article 19 of the law n. 157 of 1992 on hunting and the protection of fauna wild. This term means “all species of mammals and birds of which there are populations that live in a state of natural freedom, permanently or temporarily, on the national territory or stop there for short periods”.

Therefore, all non-domestic and non-bred animals fall within the definition. Except for rats, mice, voles and moles, the rest of the wildlife is divided between animals a protection totalwhich cannot be hunted, and others for which a withdrawal legal which must respect methods, times and maximum number of specimens, in order to safeguard the populations present on our territory.

However, the new amendment will allow Regions to provide for the control of wildlife species even in areas where hunting is prohibited, including areas protected and the areas urbanlike city parks, even on the days of hunting silence and in prohibition periods. This in order to safeguard biodiversity, public health, people’s safety, road safety and protect the historical and artistic heritage.

If the ordinary control activities of animal populations should prove inadequate to deal with extraordinary situations, such as the wild boar emergency in various cities, the Regions will therefore be able to authorize control planslasting for five yearswhich will provide for the killing and capture of supernumerary specimens, first informing the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.

This type of intervention does not constitute a hunting activity, and therefore cannot be assimilated to hunting. However, the activities can also be carried out by hunters localsprovided that they are regularly enrolled in the territorial areas and that they attend before training courses specific. Animals slaughtered, as specified in the amendment, can be eaten at the table if they pass the necessary hygienic and sanitary tests.

Because the new law is criticized by the opposition and by environmentalists

The new law has been widely criticized by environmental associations and some opposition parties, such as theItalian Left Green Alliance. Angelo Bonelli, co-spokesman of Europa Verde, declared that the right-wing majority “has approved the amendment which introduces the hunting of all animal species in parks and cities into the economic package at any time and at any time”.

“The rule does not only concern wild boars but will allow the killing of species protected by the European Union, in total violation of the habitats directive and article 9 of the Constitution“, underlined the politician again. Announcing that he will carry on a “battle in Parliament” that a “complaint to the European Union is already ready, because we are convinced that Italy will be put in arrears with the start of a procedure of infringement“.

Although the deputy does not take into consideration the limitations foreseen by the same amendment, he underlines a strong one critical issues of the modification. Which, as already mentioned, refers to all wildlife, and not just wild boars. In fact, the intention of the legislator was the culling of wild pigs, and not having made it explicit could make the law dangerous for biodiversity or expose Italy to measures by the EU authorities. But why did Giorgia Meloni’s party decide to operate with this urgency against wild boars?

How many wild boars are in Italy and why they are increasing rapidly

In Italy, feral pig populations are growing dramatically. It is difficult to say how many wild boars there really are in our country. Ispra’s estimates indicate that it would have passed from 500 thousand individuals in 2010 to beyond a million in 2020. Coldiretti believes that in 2022 they are even 2.3 million. This species is particularly fecund, easily adapts to any environment, has high mobility and has gregarious behaviour. All traits that have made possible its exponential growth in recent years.

The progressive abandonment of cultivated areas of the Apennines and the Alps, the lack of big predators and the new ones techniques agricultural, more respectful of the environment and ecosystems, have accelerated the reproduction of wild boars. So much so that in our country, and in other parts of Europe, there is talk of a real emergency. Which causes problems on several fronts. On the one hand wild boars damage human activities and cause accidents in the city, on the other they represent a sanitary time bomb.

How dangerous are wild boars? They cause damage and accidents: the numbers

According to what was declared by Ettore Prandini, number one of Coldiretti, the wild boars and wildlife of our country cause one accident every 41 hours. The number of serious accidents with deaths and injuries caused by animals would have increased by81% on provincial roads. And we are now talking about invasion of cities, considering that more than one in four Italians, the 26% of the sample heard by the association, found himself face to face with a wild boar, even in a city environment.

The herds are getting closer and closer to homes and schools, parks, farmland. And often they attack citizens and other animals. “The situation has become unsustainable in the city and in the countryside, with incalculable economic damage to agricultural production. And the environmental balance of vast territorial ecosystems is compromised”, declared the president of Coldiretti, explaining that 8 out of 10 ItaliansToday I am favourable to the enhancement of boar huntingeven in urban areas.

What diseases do wild boars transmit: alert for African swine fever

The other big problem related to the free movement of wild boars is the diffusion of plague swine African. It is a viral disease which is not transmissible to humans, but which can cause enormous damage to the economic fabric. It is indeed highly contagious and often lethal even for farmed pigs, and positive livestock must be slaughtered to stop their circulation.

In Italy the disease was present only in Sardiniawhere African swine fever is now under control, but its presence was confirmed in 2022 in several wild boars infected in Piedmontin Liguria It is in the Lazio, within the city of Rome, with the establishment of red zones. The virus isolated in mainland Italy is different from the Sardinian one, and is instead attributable to theASF epidemic exploded in 2014 in some Eastern countries, and then spread to the rest of Europe and reached the Far East and Oceania. At the moment there is no African swine fever vaccine, but it could be coming very soon.

Wild boar emergency in Italy: how many there are, why they are dangerous and what happens now with the hunting amendmentPhoto source: ANSA

A wild boar in the city.

Is hunting the only solution to end the wild boar emergency?

There hunting is therefore the best solution to put an end to the problem of wild boars in Italy? No, according to a review presented by the WWF in February 2022, which takes into consideration over 80 studies on the subject. And which explains that in reality hunting and selecontrol are responsible for a increase of the number of wild boars. Basically, it is explained by the environmental association, the numbers increase because the wild boars, under pressure due to their killing and the destabilization of family groups, they tend to reproduce more.

In fact, the wild boar lives in groups made up of several females, whose estrus, and therefore the reproductive cycle, is synchronized, and occurs only once a year. THE pheromones issued by the older female, the matron, inhibit the reproduction of the youngest specimens. And they allow her to pair exclusively with the salegnanoa powerful male but with a low sperm count.

However, this mechanism does not occur with the intervention of the hunters who, by killing the matrons and the large males, as the most coveted preys, cause the early estrus of the young, who mate without control with equally young males with a high sperm count. The population, with the absence of the matron and therefore under threat, thus begins to increase exponentially and become younger and younger. The more babies are born into the world, the more chances the species will have to survive.

The WWF advises instead to resort to catches with i manhole coversto the fences electrified and to sterilization. Less invasive techniques and more respectful of the hierarchies of the social groups of these animals, although very expensive and difficult to apply to the vast and varied Italian territories. And that they would need a lot of human, as well as economic, resources to coordinate the activities of the whole peninsula and stop the proliferation of wild boars efficiently.


Photo source: ANSA

Wild boar emergency in Italy: how many there are, why they are dangerous and what happens now with the hunting amendment