The late comedian Robin Williams once said that using cocaine “is God’s way of telling you you have too much money.”
But recently a herd of wild boars in Italy didn’t have to do anything but use their considerable sniffing powers to access a huge haul of the white powder — and got thoroughly stoned as a result.
The episode made for some intriguing and unusual headlines around Tuscany and other regions in Italy, but the police weren’t laughing.
They were delighted that a recorded phone call between dealers led them to identify — and arrest — the four men involved in the drug ring. The latter had buried jars filled with the drugs hoping that its location would remain hidden to local authorities.
Thanks to the boars, and the phone call during which the dealers complained about the intrusive wild animals, police were able to locate and arrest those involved.
The men now stand accused of drug trafficking. Apparently the drug was selling for 17 Euros per gram (approximately 30 USD) in cities like Siena and Arezzo, where the illicit trade is thriving.
Drug dealers are not the only ones unhappy with the presence of wild boars in Italy.
Farmers have been complaining to officials that herds of them are wreaking havoc on acreages outside the major cities. Consequently, many have staged protests to alert authorities to their concerns.
There have even been incidents of boars causing car accidents near Rome, according to a recent article in Sky News.
One individual, Coldiretti Prandini, head of a farmers’ association in the Tuscany region, estimated that as many as two million wild boars are currently running amok in Italy, damaging crops and other valuable assets in the process.
He and others are encouraging officials to take action to control, and perhaps remove, the creatures to help eliminate the problem.
“It is no longer a question of compensation,” Prandini told Sky New in early November, referring to monetary packages doled out to farmers to ease the burden caused by damage by the boars.
“It is a matter of personal safety, and it must be resolved. Ministries and leaders of regions and municipalities must act in a concerted manner to draw up an extraordinary plan, without administrative obstacles; otherwise, the problem is destined to get worse.”
In other words, officials must cut out the red tape and bureaucratic hurdles Italy’s governments — local, regional and national — are so notorious for imposing.
Dealing with the increase in the wild boar population right across Italy has consumed everyone from farmers to politicians to animal rights groups over the last few years.
The animal is a mainstay of Italy, and has roamed its hills for centuries. But its only predator (other than man, of course,) is the wolf, which is not abundant in Italy, although its numbers are growing.
In the meantime, it is man who must cope with the sometimes-aggressive boars.
In 2015, the Telegraph reported that, “a 54 year old man was attacked by a boar as he delivered his grandson to a kindergarten in the town of Arrone, in Umbria.”
In another story later that year, the Telegraph told of a massive sow seen at a bus stop in Rome. And in January of 2019, a group of boars collided with a car, and in the resulting accident, one person was killed and 10 others were injured.
Episodes like these are inevitable when large numbers of wild animals live in close proximity to man.
And while tales like boars finding cocaine and getting high go a certain way toward relieving the tension between man and beast, the reality is far more grim.
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Because even though the boars have no doubt wandered Italy’s landscape for every bit as long as its citizens, there is no question who will survive if comes down, eventually, to a choice between man and boars — man will win, every time.