Mysterious wolf slayer leaving dead animals in Tuscan villages, shot seven and strangled one in bizarre vendetta

Mysterious wolf slayer leaving dead animals in Tuscan villages, shot seven and strangled one in bizarre vendetta

  • Eight endangered wolves found dead since early November
  • Murderers left carcasses in village squares and on the steps of a theater
  • Sheep farmers thought they were behind the slaughter
  • Decimated herds of sheep have ruined many farmers in the area
  • Since its reintroduction, Tuscany’s wolf population has grown to 230
  • Deaths have sparked quarrels between conservation groups and local farmers

Repopulation: In the 1990s, wolves were reintroduced to Tuscany from the mountains of the Abruzzo, with the help of EU funding

The medieval hilltop villages, scorched valleys and free-flowing Chianti have made Tuscany a hit with British expats and tourists alike. But in recent weeks, the peaceful valleys have been rocked by a predatory serial killer.

Eight endangered native wolves have been found dead since early November, and three fresh bodies have surfaced in the past week alone.

In an apparently political gesture, the vigilante killers, or killers, have shown the carcasses where they will be seen far and wide, in village squares and in one case on the steps of a theater.

All but one of the protected animals were shot, while the others were strangled. The slaughter is believed to be the work of an exasperated sheep farmer who carries out a personal vendetta after attacks on his flock.

Vet Marco Aloisi, director of a local wildlife sanctuary, said posting the wolves’ bodies in public appeared to be a “protest”.

With the help of EU funding, wolves were reintroduced into Tuscany from the mountains of Abruzzo in the 1990s.

MFI furniture millionaire Paul Lister has similar plans to reintroduce wolves to his estate in Alladale, Scotland, despite their extinction in the UK in the 17th century.

Wolves in Italy have increased in numbers as illegal hunting by farmers has become less common, and there are now an estimated 230 in Tuscany.

The packs usually live high in the Apennines, but are driven to farmland in cold weather or when they cannot find enough prey.

In the past two years, they have ventured lower than ever before. According to official figures, wolves were responsible for 1000 attacks on sheep, cattle and horses in 2012.

Since then, an increase in marauding attacks has decimated herds in coastal Maremma.

Growing problem: Wolves in Italy have increased in numbers as illegal hunting by farmers has become less common, and there are now an estimated 230 in Tuscany

Growing problem: Wolves in Italy have increased in numbers as illegal hunting by farmers has become less common, and there are now an estimated 230 in Tuscany

Activism: Conservation groups have staged protests, calling for swift justice for those behind the killings

Activism: Conservation groups have staged protests, calling for swift justice for those behind the killings

In some areas, production has been halved, leaving farmers on the brink of collapse.

Regional projects to mitigate damage caused by wolves, including traps and specially trained dogs, have largely failed.

Many sympathize with the farmers’ frustration.

Local MP Luca Sani, chair of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, said: ‘The killing of wolves is a matter of great concern. However, it would be irresponsible to bury our heads in the sand and not recognize that this action is a worrying sign of the annoyance our farmers are feeling.’

Conservation groups have staged protests and called for swift justice. James Bottinelli, spokesman for the A law Against Vivisection group in Grosseto, said: “Anyone who kills an animal is a criminal and must be stopped, but especially in a case like this where we are dealing with a serial killer.”

Businessman Paul Lister has plans similar to those in Tuscany, and wants to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish wilderness, at his Alladale estate

Businessman Paul Lister has plans similar to those in Tuscany, and wants to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish wilderness, at his Alladale estate

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