- Rome is being overrun by wild boars weighing up to 200 pounds.
- Wolves could be the answer to culling the population and restoring an equilibrium, belive wildlife experts
- Traces of boar remains are already showing up in the feces.
Italy's capital, Rome, is being overrun by wild boars. But instead of man-made solutions to the troublesome invasion on four trotters, nature could come to the rescue of harassed Romans thanks to the return of wolves to the city's fringes, experts told The Times.
The newspaper writes that there could be thousands of boars wandering the streets of Rome, scaring the citizens and devouring piles of rubbish left on the roads.
For example, in 2021, a boar gang surrounded a woman in a supermarket car park near Rome, forcing her to drop her shopping which they then devoured, said The Times.
But it's not just their 200-pound stature and sharp tusks that scare the locals, but the soaring cases of African swine fever affecting domestic pigs, which — while harmless to humans — pose a serious threat to the production of Italy's famed prosciutto ham.
To cull the population of boars, the Italian government's anti-boar tsar Angelo Ferrari told The Times that fencing had been erected along Rome's 68km surrounding ring road.
"The plan is for all those inside the ring road to get infected and die, even as we carry out a significant depopulation outside the city," he said.
Then, hunters in the Lazio region around Rome were given extra hunting permits to continue the cull, with officials hoping 50,000 could be destroyed.
But this isn't a definite answer to Rome's boar problem. Maurizio Gubbiotti, the head of Rome's parks and nature reserves, told The Times, "it's very hard to hermetically seal off that much ring road."
In addition to this, environmental activists have denounced this approach by staging protests and tearing down fencing.
It's Italy's growing population of wolves that may provide an answer to the marauding boar.
In 2013 researchers found the first proof of a wolf's presence in Castel di Guido Reserve, inside the municipality of Rome, their first sighting in more than a century, the European Wilderness Society reported.
Once barely traceable in Italy, the wolves are now returning, and Gubbiotti told The Times that they are now being sighted on the edge of Rome, where they could be feasting on wild boar who retreat to wooded areas when they are not feeding.
He said traces of boar remains are already showing up in their feces in the Insugherata nature reserve near Rome, evidence that they're already contributing to the cull.
"The equilibrium is coming," said Gubbiotti.