Calls for pigs in Rome sanctuary to be spared from swine fever cull

Courts reject appeal to prevent cull of rescued animals.

Around 140 healthy pigs and wild boar on a farm sanctuary north of Rome face slaughter after courts rejected an appeal calling for the animals to be spared from a cull after African swine fever (ASF) was detected in the area.

The animals living at the Sfattoria degli Ultimi, none of which have swine fever, are all either rescued from the wild or from mistreatment, and include young wild boar orphaned after their mothers were shot or killed in car accidents.

The cull is part of measures aimed at drastically reducing the numbers of wild boar while stemming the spread of swine fever, a highly contagious viral disease that is fatal to pigs and wild hogs but not transmitted to humans.

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The measures include slaughtering pigs and wild boar found near active cases of swine fever, first detected in Rome earlier this year, with the emergency measures focused on a vast “red zone” in north and north-west areas of the capital.

A few days ago the Sfattoria degli Ultimi was informed by local health authorities that its animals were to be slaughtered, an order the volunteers took to the Lazio regional administrative tribunal (TAR).

However the courts upheld the order and now the story is making nationwide news in Italy, with more than 145,000 people signing an online petition demanding the “absurd” cull to be stopped.

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Animal rights groups have rallied to the defence of the sanctuary and activists from across Italy have begun arriving in Rome to show their support.

The animals in the shelter are cared for by around 200 volunteers who issued a statement describing the culling order as “an incredible episode of injustice”.

“Our animals are all checked, microchipped, absolutely healthy and registered” – the sanctuary stated – “They cannot be killed”.