Italian farmers slaughter wolves in protest

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Italian farmers are killing wolves in protest against the deaths of their livestock. Photo: FurLined/Flickr
12:30 CET+01:00
Farmers in Tuscany are illegally killing wolves and leaving the carcasses in villages and towns in a form of protest against the deaths of their livestock.

The two most recent victims of the massacre were caught in illegal snares in the Scansano hills before being shot – and then left abandoned in the street, bringing the total number of wolves killed in the region since November 2013 to at least eight, La Repubblica reported. Two wolf-dog hybrids were also killed last week in Saturnia and Manciano.

Local police are investigating the killings, which violate both European and Italian law and have been strongly decried by animal rights campaigners. Last week saw 1,500 animal activists gather in Grosseto for a protest against the wolf killings.

Marco Sabatini, vice-president of the Grosseto province, told La Repubblica: “For some time we have led programmes both for the protection of wolves and the safeguarding of farms against attacks from predators. I strongly condemn those who choose to carry out their own illegal form of justice by killing the wolves.”

He said the perpetrators were guilty of "gratuitous violence", adding that with the public dumping of the wolves' bodies, the killings were an attempt to intimidate those working for projects such as Ibriwolf, which seeks to protect wolves and wild dogs. 

The Italian wolf population dropped to just 100 in the 1970s, but since then a ban on hunting wolves has allowed numbers to creep back up to an estimated 1000.

This has had a damaging effect on farmers' livestock and livelihood, with a report from Italian farmers' organization Coldiretti estimating that in 2013, wolves were responsible for the slaughter of 3,000 sheep, as well as goats, ponies and cows.

"Wolves attacked my animals three times in December,” farmer Franco Mattei told La Repubblica. “On the third occasion, I killed the wolf.”

Italian law allows farmers to apply for compensation from the government if they lose livestock to wolves, but this can take several months to come through, leading many to take matters into their own hands.

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“It shouldn't just be the farmers who pay the price of predators living alongside domestic livestock,” said Stefano Massini from Coldiretti.

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