Wild boars routing prized vineyards in Chianti, Italy

Central European Boar

Winemakers around the world face droughts, floods, and wildfires, but Italian winemakers in the country’s famed Tuscan wine region are beset by an equally damaging, yet unique threat—wild boars.

According to a report in the New York Times, the region is swarming with an exploding population of wild boars and deer that savor the sugary grapes and the vines’ tender sprouts, but that are also part of the region’s famed landscape, hunting traditions, and cuisine.

There are currently more than four times the number of boar and deer in the Tuscan region than any other region in Italy, and in Europe only parts of Austria have more of the species.

Winemakers, who are suffering an estimated $11 million to $16 million in lost harvests each year, are doing what they can to curb the destruction from wild boars and deer, including building fences to enclose their vineyards. The fences themselves have been a point of contention within the community as some believe they mar the beauty of the Tuscan landscape.

Still, many fear that the unruly  population is not only upsetting the production of vineyards, but the ecosystem of the entire region.

In February, the region approved a law aimed at drastically reducing the number of wild boars and deer over the next three years, bringing the population to around 150,000 from over 400,000 today. According to the New York Times, the law extends hunting outside the regular three-month season to licensed hunters or professionals, but allows them to shoot only wild boars and roe and fallow deer of a certain age and gender and with regimented procedures.

Hunters disagree the law will be effective on reducing the population, but one thing’s for sure—something must be done to minimize the damage done to area wineries.

[H/T New York Times]

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