An influx of wild boars onto the streets of Rome is now such a problem that it has become a campaign issue for the Italian capital’s upcoming mayoral election.
The animals have been increasingly drawn to the city in recent years, attracted by piles of trash that tumble out of often unemptied rubbish skips.
Current mayor Virginia Raggi, a member of the populist Five Star Movement, has complained in recent days that the boars are being used to undermine her campaign to win a second term.
Ms Raggi filed a lawsuit against the regional Lazio government earlier this month over the “massive and uncontrolled presence of wild boar” in her city, which she claimed officials were not doing enough to tackle.
“My detractors continue to use photos and videos of wild boar around Rome, giving me full responsibility,” she said, as reported by The Guardian on Thursday.
“It is clear that wild boar are a problem that does not only concern the capital. If a lady is chased by a wild boar in Formello, a small town north of Rome, the next day the newspapers say I am responsible.”
The regional government, which is led by the country’s centre-left Democratic Party, has denied Ms Raggi’s accusations, arguing that management of the animals is the responsibility of Rome's various municipal councils.
Roberto Gualtieri, a Democratic Party member and one of Ms Raggi’s main opponents in the mayoral race, also dismissed the lawsuit against the region as “a joke”.
One Rome resident, Rosa Carletti, told Reuters this week that she was “scared” of the animals, while another resident said that the influx had made it “dangerous” to live in the city.
“One time I saw them as I was going to throw the rubbish away. They came after me," Ms Carletti said.
Six boars were seen harassing a woman in a carpark near Rome, forcing her to drop her shopping bags and flee, in a video that attracted international media coverage in May.
On Wednesday, right-wing leader Giorgia Meloni said that Ms Raggi had been acting as a “zoologist” rather than a mayor.
“Wild boars, rats the size of labradors, killer seagulls, we've seen it all,” Ms Meloni said, while out campaigning for her party’s candidate in the mayoral race.
Additional reporting by Reuters