The national strategy
Despite the bans imposed since January 2022 in areas infected with African swine fever to all forest goers, not just us hunters, the disease is now present in six Italian regions, including Lombardy. The national strategy introduced by the institutions and by the Extraordinary Commissioners appointed ad hoc does not seem to lead to a rapid eradication of the disease or even to prevent the spread of the virus, given the constant progress front. The wildfire spread of the virus, which seemed out of control during the spring, has slowed down to date, probably due to the lower general mobility of the species, both due to the period of the year and the felling and in some infected areas, including the Pavia area, were numerous. However, this must not lower the alert because, if the disease were to even touch areas with a high concentration of pigs, the impact for pig farming would be devastating.
What the Lombardy Region has done
The Lombardy Region, aware of this, followed the story closely: in the past year and a half, the collaboration between the Veterinary organizational unit of Councilor Bertolaso's Welfare General Directorate, Councilor Beduschi's Agriculture Directorate with the Pavia area, first touched and then hit by the PSA, it was evident. Thanks to the contribution of the Oltrepò Pavese hunting world, important objectives have been achieved in an attempt to stem the disease as much as possible. This was achieved through the local conjugation of the numerous laws and emergency plans issued, sometimes in a chaotic way, by the government bodies. The regulatory elements recently issued were the Regional Plans for Urgent Interventions (the PRIU), the extraordinary plan for the management and containment of wildlife and the extraordinary plan for the capture, killing and disposal of wild boars at a national level as well as the ordinances of PSA Commissioner. Different rules, objectives, methods and means for each plan that aim to manage the wild boar, rather than the ASF, and which only occasionally seem to speak the same language. The only element in common is a declaration of war against the wild boar species. This context, if not rigidly governed at the central level, will generate chaos around the management of the wild boar that will only benefit the spread of ASF.
Wild boar management
In fact, the rules have gone from trying to eradicate ASF to dictating new rules for the management of wild boar throughout the country, not just in infected areas. A new figure has even been created, that of the bioregulator. "Subjects authorized under current legislation to carry out hunting with specific training in biosecurity - the ordinance reads - (...) for the period of application of the African swine fever eradication plans (...) assume the function of bioregulators and can register in the appropriate national list of Bioregulators activated in the portal of veterinary information systems - Vetinfo, which the competent local authorities can draw on for activities to contain the wild boar species throughout the national territory“. The local competent authority will be able to draw from the national list to appoint bioregulators to cull wild boars even in hunted areas, where the minimum collection targets have not been achieved. These minimum objectives should be formalized with the "Extraordinary plan for the capture, slaughter and disposal of wild boars" and, given the open war against the wild boar, we do not believe they are numerically low and easily achievable.
The regulatory framework is completed with the Ordinance n.2/2023 of the PSA Commissioner, under review because it expires at the end of August, which regulates the activities in the infected territories. If the objective of eradication from ASF is no longer achievable, we hope that the new Ordinance will contain rules that allow the next hunting season to proceed as normally as possible and at the same time can give the Region tools and resources to be able to counteract the advance of PSA incisively. In this context, we must support our colleagues from Pavia in the fight against this disease whose repercussions are certainly devastating for pig farming and for all hunting activity. We hope, and we ask, the Region to continue to untangle the skein of national rules to give us clear elements to make ourselves available to the health authorities. (FIDC BRESCIA – THOUGHT HUNTERS)