Italian Farmers Want Something Done About Wild Boars

With the number of wild boars in Italy doubling in the last ten years to two million, farmers' groups are calling again for a comprehensive plan to deal with an old and growing problem.

Oct. 27, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis

Recent News

Most Italians say the time has come to put a halt to the rapidly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of wild boars whose feed­ing habits rav­age the coun­try­side and intrude cities and villages. 

We can­not wait any longer, we need imme­di­ate action to com­bat the spread­ing of the swine fever through a severe reduc­tion of the wild boars.- Mirco Carloni, Marche region sec­re­tary of agriculture

A sur­vey con­ducted on behalf of the farmer asso­ci­a­tion Coldiretti showed that almost 7 out of 10 feel there are too many boars roam­ing the coun­try, threat­en­ing prop­erty, and caus­ing mayhem.

These boars,” high­lighted a Coldiretti note, may be longer than 70 inches, weight up to 440 pounds and have fangs that can reach 12 inches, being there­fore com­pa­ra­ble to real weapons, capa­ble of inflict­ing deadly wounds to both humans and ani­mals, while also being tools of dev­as­ta­tion through crops and orchards.”

See Also: Drought, Worker Shortages and Roaming Boars: Challenges Mount for Italy’s Farmers

Olive grow­ers and other farm­ers have long denounced the dam­ages caused by the roam­ing ani­mals to crops and agri­cul­tural infra­struc­tures. Many have incurred heavy costs while try­ing to pre­vent destruc­tion by one of the widest-rang­ing mam­mals in the world. 

Local news sta­tions from north to south rou­tinely report roam­ing herds of ani­mals which are known to leave their marks, such as deep holes, in the vicin­ity of the olive trees. Traversing miles every night to reach feed­ing areas, they occupy roads and cross high-speed tracks, often caus­ing accidents.

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I have wit­nessed in my own farm how the wild boars move along rivers and banks to reach our crops. I got used to half yields,” said Filippo Gasparini, pres­i­dent of the Piacenza branch of the grow­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion Confagricoltura. 

During the hunt­ing sea­son 2019/2020,” noted Gasparini, in our province, more than 2,000 wild boars were killed, and 26,000 more were ter­mi­nated in the whole region. Even with those num­bers, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is out of con­trol, so regional author­i­ties are includ­ing new mon­i­tor­ing oper­a­tions within the regional wildlife plan.”

According to the fig­ures released by Coldiretti, in the last ten years the num­ber of wild boars in Italy has dou­bled to 2 mil­lion. More and more they are involved in an esca­la­tion of inci­dents, aggres­sions, intru­sions within urban areas where they spread look­ing for food in the garbage they find,” the asso­ci­a­tion noted.

Farmers fear the boars could spread the African swine fever to their pigs. We can not wait any longer, we need imme­di­ate action to com­bat the spread­ing of the swine fever through a severe reduc­tion of the wild boars’ num­bers,” said the sec­re­tary of agri­cul­ture for the Marche region, Mirco Carloni, who is join­ing col­leagues from other Italian regions in ask­ing the Italian Minister of Agriculture for a nation­ally coor­di­nated con­tain­ment plan. 

europe-world-italian-farmers-want-something-done-about-wild-boars-olive-oil-times

A wild boar statue on the New Market Square in Florence, Italy

The African swine fever,” under­lined Carloni, infects both wild and domes­tic ani­mals and kill them all. We must act to reduce both the san­i­tary risk and the eco­nomic risks that the epi­demic could bring to the whole pig breed­ing sector.”

In an edi­to­r­ial pub­lished by the news­pa­per la Repubblica, Piero Genovesi, a researcher and man­ager at the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), argued for a com­pre­hen­sive approach. These should include bet­ter fences for high­ways, warn­ing signs for dri­vers in selected areas, rein­forc­ing the fences around the most valu­able crops and avoid leav­ing food within cities,” he wrote. 

Such mea­sures might help mit­i­gate the impact of the boar activ­i­ties, wrote Genovesi, when com­bined with other actions, such as mass sterilization. 

The Italian expert observed, how­ever, that the lat­est sci­en­tific research showed that even ster­il­iza­tion oper­a­tions con­ducted on the boars will not be enough to greatly reduce their pop­u­la­tion. Instead,” Genovesi wrote, if we could remove every year 80 per­cent of all wild boars, we could obtain a dra­matic fall of their numbers.”

In the Coldiretti sur­vey, six in ten respon­dents said they fear the wild boars, and almost half said they would not con­sider buy­ing a house in an area with a high boar pop­u­la­tion. Eighty per­cent of those sur­veyed said hav­ing spe­cial­ized per­son­nel kill the ani­mals is the best strat­egy to reduce the numbers.

The swine fever is mak­ing inroads even in European coun­tries pre­vi­ously untouched by the dis­ease and it is spread by the pop­u­la­tion of infected wild boars that is pro­gres­sively mov­ing towards Western Europe. It already hit Germany with sev­eral out­breaks,” Gasparini noted.

We are fac­ing such a prob­lem, that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health is coor­di­nat­ing with sev­eral other admin­is­tra­tions to come up with a com­pre­hen­sive plan for the mon­i­tor­ing and the man­ag­ing of the wild boar population.”





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