Chianti Classico wine producers have backed plans to cull thousands of wild boar and deer after seeing the animals destroy grapes in their vineyards.
Four of the largest Chianti Classico producers, all situated around the hillside town of Gaiole, said the animals ate grapes equivalent to 130,000 bottles of wine last year.
This meant the Tuscan government had to give €2.5m in compensation to vineyard farmers.
The cull, proposed by the local government of Tuscany, is part of a plan to reduce the numbers of boar and deer in the region by nearly two thirds, from 420,000 to 150,000. The current population of these species in Tuscany is nearly four times the national average in Italy.
Giuseppe Liberatore, the general director of Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, told Decanter.com that there was a problem of ‘hyper crowding’ in the area. The problem is exacerbated by hunters anonymously feeding the animals, he said.
He added that, apart from the economic damage to the wineries, loss of grapes created a considerable problem on the market with too little wine to meet demand.
But, the cull was opposed by environmentalists. ‘Mass shooting is useless – wild boar have been shot for decades but the population keeps increasing. It just has the effect of pushing the animals towards the edge of towns and cities, where hunting is forbidden,’ said Massimo Vitturi from LAV, an animal welfare group, speaking to the the Telegraph.
Alternatives include feeding the animals sterilisation tablets or re-introducing natural predators such as wolves to the Tuscan countryside.
Last year wild boar and deer were also cited as responsible for 1,000 car accidents in Tuscany.