Wolves are thriving in farmland around the Tuscan city of Siena as they are allowed to return to bushland that attracts their prey. Photo: alessandro baldetti/iStockphoto < p>Its symbol is the she-wolf of Roman legend, but the Italian city famous for its art and gastronomy is under threat from real wolves.
On the outskirts there are a growing number of sightings of Siena, with an estimated 135 miles (220 kilometers) north of Rome as the creatures saunter blithely through suburban streets.
The pair were last seen at the end of January near Porta Camollia, north of Siena. on the outskirts of the Tuscan city.
They were seen by a motorist who failed to photograph them with his mobile phone. But he notified authorities, and officials found wolf feces at the scene.
Pets, especially cats, have been going missing, and the mutilated remains of a roe deer, a favorite prey of wolves in Italy, have been found in the nearby countryside.
The sightings occurred several miles from the city center. a city that boasts several wolf statues in stone and bronze.
The emblem of Siena is similar to that of Rome: a she-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus. According to legend, these two symbols are connected: when Romulus killed Remus, Remus's sons Ascio and Senio fled Rome, fearing for their lives, and Senio founded Siena.
The situation has caused such concern that the city council this week issued an appeal for help from the regional government of Tuscany and the Higher Institute of Environment and Research, the national body.
The appeal was written by Nicoletta Fabio, mayor and Barbara Magee, member council in charge of the environment.
“Day by day, anxiety among residents is growing,” the mayor said in the letter.
She said she knows wolves are a protected species in accordance with EU law, but added that she was concerned about public safety.
One factor contributing to the presence of top predators is the fact that there is a lot of agricultural land on the outskirts. part of Siena is no longer cultivated.
They have turned into bushes that provide habitat for roe deer and wild boars and attract wolves, the mayor said.
The municipality wants to begin a program to clean up the abandoned bush lands in collaboration with the national agricultural association Coldiretti.
Residents were also ordered to keep their pets indoors at night and ensure they do not wander off. throw away food scraps that may attract wolves.
It is not possible to trap or shoot wolves.
“There are not only Italian laws, but also European laws that currently prohibit us from trapping wolves, so there is little we can do,” Ms Magee told local newspaper La Gazzetta di Siena.
“The council does not have much power when it comes to this issue. We urge people to exercise extreme caution.”
Many farmers in Tuscany say they are at a standstill as attacks on their livestock increase.
Last month, farmer Elia Sardone found two of his sheep slaughtered on his farm near the town of Pienza, south of Siena.
“It happened in broad daylight, around 9am, just 150 meters from the road,” he said. said. “As soon as I opened the gate to let the animals out, I saw that there was an attack.
The predator killed two sheep, and the rest were so scared that they ran away. This is really becoming a problem. In addition to the damage it causes to farmers, it is becoming a real threat to human safety.”
As wolf numbers recover across Europe, the European Commission announced in December that it was considering changing the wolf's conservation status. animal from “strictly protected” to “protected”.
Wolf protection was established in 1979. Since then, the species has flourished and attacks on livestock have risen sharply.
“The return of wolves is good news for biodiversity in Europe. But the concentration of wolf packs in some regions of Europe has become a real danger, especially for livestock.
“To better manage critical concentrations of wolves, local authorities are asking for more flexibility,” said Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, which lost Dolly, her pony, to a wolf attack. on her family's rural property in northern Germany.