Italian army launches new offensive against wild boars over the threat they pose to this multi-billion industry

Italy’s army is going to war against wild boars and authorizing 117 soldiers for a special one-year deployment within the country’s own borders. Their mission will be to kill as many wild boars as possible in the shortest possible time.

The order to kill boars is part of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s plan to remove at least 80 percent of the 1 million to 1.5 million feral pig population over the next five years. Feral pigs, which carry African swine fever, are harmless to humans but deadly to domestic pigs, and they are a major threat to Italy’s €8.2 billion pig farming industry specializing in ham and sausage production.

Wild boars have long been rampant in Italy. Not only do they destroy farmland, but they also take over rubbish dumps near big cities and even raid the towns themselves.

Between 2015 and 2021, they are estimated to have caused around €120 million in damage. However, the costs of damage pale in comparison to the new scourge of African swine fever, which scientists believe wild boars carry with them.

The biggest problem with the disease is that there is no vaccine. While it poses no threat to humans, the mortality rate in domestic pigs is virtually 100 percent, and the virus not only survives in animals but also spreads through objects. Feral pigs are considered to be super-pathogens, posing the greatest possible threat to Italy’s 8.7 million domestic pigs — and the country’s meat industry.

The seriousness of the issue is illustrated by an incident last September. Swine fever struck in the northern part of the province of Lombardy, forcing the authorities to order the slaughter of 34,000 domestic pigs. However, on the basis of “better safe than sorry,” several countries have restricted imports of Italian pork over the past two years, most recently Canada, which banned imports of Parma meat products into the country.

The government has already approved the deployment of soldiers in Operation Wild Boar. The reasoning is that swine fever threatens not only the pig farms themselves, but also the whole supply chain from there, so the government is intervening firmly and aggressively to tackle a health problem that can grow from an economic problem to a social one in no time.

Italian environmentalists, of course, immediately attacked the regulation; they were not at all concerned about the lives of the wild boars, but rather began to criticize the work of the government, describing the use of armed forces as “populist.” Their primary concern was that the sight of soldiers hunting wild boar would create insecurity and fear among the population, especially in urban areas, where it is not at all common for the army to start shooting.

Their other objection is easier to understand: as they said, Italy has such chaotic rules for dumping, storing and transporting waste that it will be impossible to stop the wild boars, renowned for their adaptability, since their foraging grounds are readily available across the country.

In other words, these environmentalists believe that the waste disposal situation should be sorted out first, as it could offer solutions other than deploying the army to deal with the chaos caused by the feral pigs. Meloni has so far shrugged off these criticisms and argues the army will be a quick and cost-effective solution.

Source:   Remix News

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