Too many wild boars in Italy
Wild boar, the growth of killings (or levies) and damage continues: in the period 2015-21 the levy of wild boar increased by 45% and on average around 300.000 wild boars were killed per year (of which 257.000 in ordinary hunting and 42.000 in wildlife control interventions). Over the same period, the annual amounts of damage to agriculture fluctuated between €14,6 and €18,7 million, with the annual average exceeding €17 million. These are some of the results of the first detailed survey on a national scale ISPRA has achieved thanks to the information provided by the Regions and Protected Areas and which the Institute communicated to the Ministers of the Environment and Agriculture. The consultation of over 700 documents and technical reports has made it possible, for the first time, to collect the quantitative data essential to photograph in a realistic way the trend of wild boar management over the last seven years throughout the national territory.
The lack of a homogeneous data collection system on a national scale has made it necessary to make an enormous effort to harmonize the information transmitted; the information contained in the "Regional plans for urgent interventions for the management, control and eradication of African swine fever", elaborated in 2022 by all the regions and autonomous provinces, were decisive for the construction of the database used for the analyses. in response to the arrival of the virus in our country. Based on the numbers available on the wild boars taken and the parameters found in the scientific literature, ISPRA deems plausible a minimum number of one and a half million animals by 2021. In the seven years of the study, 86% of wild boar slaughters (about 1,8 million animals) took place in ordinary hunting activities and the remaining 14% (about 295.000 animals) in wildlife control activities.
The period 2015-2021
30% of the total collection (about 630.00 animals) was carried out in Tuscany and there are seven regions that collected over one million animals in the period 2015-2021 (Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Lazio, Umbria, Liguria and Marche), for a total of 73% of the total withdrawal. 94% of shooting was carried out in public territory and only 6% in private hunting reserves. The most used hunting technique in Italy remains the hunt with tracking dogs (88% of the animals taken), followed by selective shooting from ambush (9%), shooting (2%) and wandering hunting (1%). This type of sampling was approximately equal between the sexes (51% males and 49% females), while it was unbalanced as regards age, with 60% of adults among the slaughtered animals and the remainder of less than a year. 38% of the wildlife control activity was carried out within national and regional protected areas, the remainder (about 184.000 animals) in unprotected territory. The most used technique for control was selective shooting (52%), followed by capture (31%), hunted down (11%) and turning - a technique conducted with the use of a single dog which signals the traces of wild boars - (6%).
The damage of wild boars
In the period 2015-2021, the overall estimate of damage to agriculture was just under 120 million euros of damage for a total of over 105.000 damage events. Overall, 36% of the amounts (about €30 million) for wild boar damage refer to national and regional protected areas, the remainder (about €89 million) to unprotected areas. The regions most affected by wild boar damage were Abruzzo and Piedmont with, respectively, around 18 and 17 million € in the period considered. Three other regions recorded over €10 million in damages: Tuscany, Campania and Lazio. Only in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano is there no damage to agriculture, in relation to the still very limited distribution of wild boar in this context.
The summary picture that emerges from the ISPRA survey describes a generalized increase in the indicators (hunting samples, damage control samples) currently available to monitor the progress of the management of the species. This constant increase of the phenomenon on a national scale requires the urgent adoption of a national intervention strategy designed on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge, which integrates damage prevention and population containment interventions, and which ensures selective and planned withdrawals coherently with the overriding goal of harm reduction. A key element of a wild boar management strategy is the creation of a homogeneous data collection system on a national scale, which also integrates information relating to prevention interventions and road accidents, and makes it possible to monitor management progress in time real. (ISPRA source)