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ENVIRONMENT

Wolf explosion in Liguria leads to calls for cull

The northeastern Italian region of Liguria is considering hunting its wolves due to a lack of funds available to reimburse farmers for the damage the animals wreak on livestock.

Wolf explosion in Liguria leads to calls for cull
The Italian region of Liguria is considering hunting its rampant wolf population. Photo: Wikimedia

In 2014, conservationists put the Ligurian wolf population at 50, but regional councillors say there are now many more – and they are killing and mauling many farmers' animals.

“In the last year the population has exploded. We think there are now as many as 200 wolves in the region,” Stefano Mai from the Northern League party told La Repubblica.

“Starting to hunt them again is a solution we are looking at.”

According to Mai, the region doesn't have enough money to keep compensating farmers for all the sheep, goats and calves the wolves are taking. 

“Instances are multiplying too quickly,” he added.

But proposals to start hunting the wolves again have proved controversial.

“They are not harmful to man and their diet is made up mostly of wild animals, inducing wild boars,” said Marco De Ferrari, the spokesperson for the Five Star Movement in Liguria, highlighting the role they could play in keeping Italy's rampant boar population in check. 

The Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus) has been protected by the EU since 1992, having been hunted to near extinction.

Though protected animals, EU members can carry out a cull of wolves provided the measure is justified on very specific grounds and meets conservation criteria – as controversially happened in Sweden earlier this year.

There are now thought to be upwards of 1,200 wolves  across Italy, mostly living in the mountains of the Alps and Apennines.

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CLIMATE

Central and southern Italy brace for storms and heavy snow

Storms and snowfall are forecast across much of central and southern Italy over the next few days, according to weather reports.

Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy.
Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Italy’s Civil Protection Department on Monday issued ‘orange’ alerts for bad weather along Campania’s Tyrrhenian coastline and the western part of Calabria, while Sicily, Basilicata, Lazio, Molise, Umbria, Abruzzo, central-western Sardinia, and the remaining areas of Campania and Calabria are under a lower-level ‘yellow’ weather warning.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is warning Italy’s central-southern regions to prepare for a blast of polar air from the Arctic Circle that will bring heavy snowfall, rain and storms, reports national weather forecaster Il Meteo.

The village of Grotte di Castro in the province of Viterbo, two hours’ drive north of Rome, mountainous parts of Sardinia, and much of the province of Campobasso in the central-eastern region of Molise were already blanketed in snow on Monday morning.

The department is responsible for predicting, preventing and managing emergency events across the country, and uses a green, yellow, orange and red graded colour coding system for weather safety reports.

An orange alert signifies a heavy rainfall, landslide and flood risk, while a yellow alert warns of localised heavy and potentially dangerous rainfall.

The current meteorological conditions mean that snow is expected to reach unusually low altitudes of around 450-500 metres, with flakes already falling thickly on parts of the southern-central Apennines mountain range at 500-700 metres altitude.

The hills of Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Lazio, Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Basilicata are likely to see heavy snow around the 500m mark, while areas at an altitude of 1000m or higher will see between 50-60 cm of fresh snow.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO /AFP

In areas where the snow is unlikely to reach, heavy rains and thunderstorms are anticipated, with rain forecast throughout Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Lazio, reports Il Meteo.

Strong winds are forecast over the whole country, with the island regions of Sicily and Sardinia facing windspeeds of over 100km/hour and the risk of storm surges, according to the national newspaper La Repubblica.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The north of the country, meanwhile, will see sun but low temperatures of below 0°C at night in many areas, including across much of the Po Valley.

While conditions are expected to stabilise on Tuesday, cold currents from Northern Europe are forecast to trigger another wave of bad weather on Wednesday and Thursday, with Sardinia and Italy’s western coastline again at risk of storms and heavy rainfall that will move up towards Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto in the north.

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