Italy will start killing wild boars around Rome after African swine fever was found in one of the thousands of animals that live in the Italian capital, local authorities said on Monday.
African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious viral disease that affects wild and farm pigs. The illness can result in death, but animals can also recover. Italy fears an outbreak of ASF because it means a loss for farmers as they can’t sell their meat.
In January, China suspended pork imports from Italy after the disease was detected in a wild boar in the north-western Piedmont region.
The plan is to “selectively” reduce Rome’s wild boar population, Andrea Napoletano, an official close to the president of the Lazio region that surrounds Rome, told state broadcaster Rai. Rome is estimated to be home to 5,000-6,000 wild boars.
Junior health minister Andrea Costa said the number of wild boars was a problem all over Italy, and a “large scale cull” was required nationally, despite the concerns of animal rights groups and environmentalists.
African swine fever “cannot be fought by sending hunters to kill wild boars”, Italian animal welfare organization OIPA said in a statement.
OIPA added that the problem in Rome is not the wild boars but the waste, which has become very serious in recent years, that attracts the animals to the city.
“The containment of African swine fever cannot be left in the hands of hunters and their personal interests,” Italy’s Anti-Vivisection League (LAV) said.
LAV added that Italy should follow Belgium and the Czech Republic, where African swine fever was not destroyed by mass killing wild boars, but thanks to the installation of fences around the infected areas.
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