Rome: Rome has been invaded by Gauls, Visigoths and vandals over the centuries, but the Eternal City is now grappling with a rampaging force of an entirely different sort: rubbish-seeking wild boars.

Entire families of wild boars have become a daily sight in Rome, as groups of 10-30 beasts young and old emerge from the vast parks surrounding the city to trot down traffic-clogged streets in search of food in Rome’s notoriously overflowing rubbish bins.

Wild boars cross a street in Rome.Credit:AP

Posting wild boar videos on social media has become something of a sport as exasperated Romans capture the scavengers marching past their stores, strollers or playgrounds.

As Rome gears up for a local election next weekend, the wild boar invasion has been used as a political weapon to attack Mayor Virginia Raggi over the city’s formidable rubbish collection problems. But experts say the issue is more complicated and tied at least in part to a booming boar population.

Italy’s main agriculture lobby, Coldiretti, estimates there are over 2 million wild boars in Italy. The region of Lazio surrounding Rome estimates there are 5-6000 of them in city parks, a few hundred of which regularly abandon the trees and green for urban asphalt and trash bins.

To combat their growing numbers, Lazio launched a program in 2019 to capture the beasts in park cages for slaughter, and last month approved a new decree to allow selective hunting of boars in some parks, which until now had been strictly forbidden.

Putting the bins out has become a boaring task.Credit:AP

Maurizio Giubbiotti, in charge of Lazio’s parks, says the region needs to increase the boar cull from 700 over two years to at least 1000 annually to get the situation under control.

In Italy’s rural areas, hunting wild boar is a popular sport and most Italians can offer a long list of their favorite wild boar dishes, including pappardelle pasta with boar sauce and wild boar stew. But animal rights groups have been adamantly opposed to mass culling.

Wild boars can weigh up to 100 kilos, reach 80 centimetres in height and measure 1.5 metres long, a not-insignificant threat especially to the elderly and young children.

AP

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