‘Barbaric and medieval’ new law allows wild boar hunting with bows and arrows

Wild boar
There are now more than two million wild boar in Italy, according to the national agricultural association - Neil Burton/iStockphoto

A new law allowing people to hunt wild boar with bows and arrows in a part of Italy has caused outrage, with critics condemning the practice as barbaric and “medieval”.

The passing of the new legislation in the northern region of Liguria has drawn a vociferous response, with animal rights activists saying it is cruel and arguing that it is almost impossible to kill a boar with an arrow while it is running through forest or scrub. They say it will lead to a “gratuitous massacre” of wild boar.

Nearly 90,000 people have signed an online petition against hunting with bows and arrows, calling the practice “medieval barbarity which is not worthy of a civilised country”.

Hunting with arrows leads to the “atrocious suffering” of wild animals and poses a danger to hikers and dog walkers in the woods, the petition says.

“Hunting is violent and anachronistic but it is even more crazy to allow these self-styled Robin Hoods to practise their meagre skills on living targets,” said Michela Vittoria Brambilla, a former government minister who is now head of the Italian League for the Defence of Animals.

Bow and arrows
In Liguria the number of hunters has declined from 20,000 a decade ago to 14,000 at present - Dmitry Belyaev/iStockphoto

But proponents argue they need all the hunters they can get because the wild boar population is dramatically increasing.

They point out that across Italy, the number of hunters is dwindling as older men retire or die and younger generations refuse to take up arms. In Liguria, which encompasses the port of Genoa as well as a rugged hinterland of mountains and valleys, the number of hunters has declined from 20,000 a decade ago to 14,000.

Officials in Liguria say an outbreak of African swine fever, which can be transmitted from wild boar to domestic pigs, makes a cull of the species all the more urgent.

“If you think of bows and arrows, you might think of the Apaches, but shooting with a bow is an Olympic discipline and a noble art. The bow is a weapon of precision,” said Alessandro Piana, 51, the vice president of Liguria and the councillor responsible for hunting regulation.

‘A more honest way of killing the animal’

“You have to get to within 100 metres of the animal, whereas hunters with rifles can comfortably shoot from 400 metres. Ethically, it is a more honest way of killing the animal,” Mr Piana, a keen hunter himself, told La Repubblica newspaper.

Hunting with a bow and arrow is already allowed in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions and is common in countries such as the US, Norway and Sweden, he said.

The new law was passed “because in Liguria we are in the midst of a swine fever emergency and we need to increase the cull”.

“This year we are supposed to be killing 29,000 boar but we won’t manage to. The swine fever infection is spreading. The terrain is demanding, fences are not enough to contain the wild boar and for this reason, we need to find other means of culling them.”

Mr Piana, a member of the centre-Right League party, said the law was passed with support from centre-Left councillors.

A report released earlier this year found that wild boar have caused €120 million of damage to Italian agriculture in the last seven years.

There are now more than two million wild boar in Italy, according to Coldiretti, the national agricultural association. They also encroach on cities such as Genoa, Rome and Milan, drawn by uncollected rubbish and food waste.

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