Events
May
2019

Empowering local communities to contain wild boars

Media and Communication Service

The damage caused by the proliferation of wild boars is increasingly affecting Alpine areas and other regions. Although lower than the damage caused to the crop in Piedmont and Lombardy, the one caused by the herds in Canton Ticino has been growing throughout the years, becoming even more significant than in Canton Grison.  

According to the UN, one of the recurring objectives for global development is the interconnection between the ecosystem, biodiversity, and human society. Along these lines, the World Challenge Program, a new initiative launched by USI (https://www.usi.ch/wcp), is based on an interdisciplinary approach to study the challenges of sustainable development.

Two WCP researchers at USI (Prof. Michael Gibbert and Dr. Stefano Giacomelli) have shown in a study recently published in Ecology and Society (one of the most important international journal on ecology and sustainability) that the most effective method in containing wild boars consists, by contrast, in limiting unregulated hunting and, on the other hand, empowering the local communities involved. In this regard, alongside the biological reasons that explain the growth of wild boar populations, there is also a human factor consisting in illegal releases into the environment of wildlife bred in captivity.

The researchers, assisted by Dr. Roberto Viganò of the veterinary consultancy AlpVet, examined 3 models implemented in the last 20 years in Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (an Italian province bordering on Ticino and Valais). One of the models proposed by Dr. Luca Rotelli has imposed strong restrictions to wild boar hunting, while the other two models allowed hunting them down. A new model based on an innovative system of Community Empowerment has been added since 2010. The model is based on special authorisations issued by name, to land owners and farmers, to kill boars that would cause damage to the crop throughout the year. The study highlights how the joint model of limiting hunting and community empowerment significantly reduces the proliferation of wild boar, more than with other models, therefore containing crop damage. In addition, it is a tool that discourages the illegal behavior of releasing captive boars into nature, and thus reduces the risk of hybridization between species.

The article published in Ecology and Society does not suggest the termination of wild boar hunting, which is indeed considered an important cultural element and identity of the different territories. On the other hand, the research emphasises the need for a more conscious and responsible management towards the species, through greater communication and involvement of all interested parties.

Read the full article: www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol23/iss4/art12/ES-2018-10353.pdf