Hundreds protest in Rome against marauding wild boars

Rome (AFP) –


Hundreds of farmers descended on the Italian capital on Thursday to protest against a surge of marauding wild boars they say are ruining their crops and land.

Farmers from various regions of Italy filled a square outside the parliament building.

Some held photographs of trampled fields or mangled cars after encounters on roads with the beasts.

Farmers say the boars, which are prolific breeders, need to be better controlled and rules prohibiting hunting loosened.

Coldiretti, Italy's main agricultural lobby, says there are two million wild boars in Italy which have, along with other wild animals, caused the deaths of 13 people in the first nine months of the year.

In January, one person died and about a dozen were injured in a pile-up near the northern city of Lodi after a group of wild boars ventured onto the country's main north-south motorway.

The animals have also ventured into the northern outskirts of Rome, lured by the heaps of uncollected rubbish in overflowing bins.

At the demonstration in Rome, bowls of wild boar stew and boar sandwiches were handed out under a tent.

Politicians including Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova and rightwing opposition leader Matteo Salvini pledged support to a problem farmers complained has worsened in recent years.

"The countryside should govern the countryside, and not the city," former deputy prime minister Salvini told the crowd. "I like baby wild boars too, but the problem is in the numbers. Nature needs balance."

One protester, Gaetano Fraioli, said the government had done nothing to tackle the problem.

The boars often invade his vineyard in Colfelice, about 80 miles (120 kilometres) south of Rome, and his daughter's car once collided with one of the animals, he said.

"I had to put in an electric fence," Fraioli said. "They destroy everything."