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Italy is deploying its soldiers to fight... wild boars?

€120 million of damage in rural areas from 2015 to 2021

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is deploying 177 soldiers over the next year to try to reduce Italy's wild boar population by 80% within the next five years.

Currently, around 1 million to 1.5 million roam freely in Italy, eating everything in their path, from trash on the street to farmers' crops.

And they're doing a hell of a lot of damage.

The boars are estimated to have caused about €120 million of damage in rural areas from 2015 to 2021 and are also blamed for causing numerous car accidents.

But even with the pigs proving to be a giant nuisance, Italy's main concern is the damage they’re doing to pigs and its food industry.

Since 2022, the wild boars have become superspreaders of African swine fever, a highly contagious virus that can devastate pig populations.

Swine fever “threatens production chains, not only pig farms” and could result in “thousands and thousands of pigs being slaughtered.”

One of the worst cases was last September in Lombardy when Italy had to cull around 34,000 domestic pigs to prevent a severe swine fever outbreak.

And the reason Italy cares so much, other than the unfortunate loss of pig life, is because of what it’s doing to the Italian economy.

This outbreak has been a massive handicap for Italy’s pork industry, which produces prosciutto, cured sausage products, and other delicacies and generates about €8.2bn annually.

And over the past couple of years, many countries have restricted Italian pork imports because they're terrified of the virus entering their own pig pens.

The good news: Swine fever poses no direct health threat to humans.

The bad news: A lot of pigs and boars are gonna die.

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