Animal rights groups expressed outrage Wednesday after Italian lawmakers approved a plan to extend hunting to urban areas in a bid to contain the wild boars roaming cities such as Rome.
The budget committee of parliament's lower Chamber of Deputies green-lit an amendment put forward by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party to the 2023 budget, which will put it to a parliament-wide vote before the end of the year.
The amendment allows the killing of wild animals for reasons of road safety in protected areas, even in cities, with wild boars that pass the necessary sanitary tests allowed to be eaten, according to media reports.
Brothers of Italy insisted it was not about hunting but "control", saying wild boars grazing in public spaces were dangerous to citizens and motorists, and also warning of the risk of spreading swine flu.
Coldiretti, Italy's main agricultural lobby, estimates there are more than two million wild boars in Italy, warning their increasing numbers have caused traffic accidents and damage to crops.
"The only way to contain their expansion is culling," said Brothers of Italy lawmaker Marta Farolfi.
However, animals rights groups have strongly opposed the measure, saying it could put at risk EU protected species such as wolves.
"The scandalous approval of the wild hunting amendment ushers in a new season of massacres," said Massimo Vitturi, from the LAV animal rights campaign group.
Italy's International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) described it as something out of the "Far West", saying it would open up the "indiscriminate killings of wildlife".
© Agence France-Presse
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