It's the start of the hunting season today and the hills and fields around the house are echoing with the sound of gunfire. Wilf who was always such a happy carefree spirit has been hiding under the kitchen table all morning refusing to come outside to join us for breakfast. Clearly the memories of Aprils robbery and the gunfire in the house have taken more of a psychological toll on him than we'd anticipated. Any thoughts on what to do? If we pay him more attention it reinforces the fear, if we ignore him we feel horrible! I hate to see the boy so upset. Surprisingly Digby seems less frightened than his big brother although that said he is lying at my feet (or should I say joined to my feet) under the desk as I type this.
The hunters claim that they don't kill for pleasure but provide a useful and necessary service by keeping the population of wild boar under control. If left unchecked the cinghiali would charge through the vineyards munching on the young grapes and pulling down the highly valuable vines. I'd believe this story if it wasn't for the fact that the hunters feed the pregnant females with maize in the mating season,effectively taming them as easy targets. It isn't the first time, nor the last, that the basest of motives will be dressed up in the mantle of good citizenship. A bit like slaughter posing as Martha Stewart.
Criticism is impossible as a powerful pro-hunting lobby in Umbria is generously sponsored by the large local gun manufacturers in the Terni valley just to the south of here. Needless to say this makes them a very powerful voice in the land.
There are an alarming number of accidents each year as safety is unheard of and what laws there are are ignored or unenforced. Hunters are supposed to shoot away from,rather than towards,houses and be at least 100 metres away when they fire.As we looked out from the breakfast terrace across the fields this morning it was clear that neither of these rules was being obeyed.
Two years ago we nearly lost Wilf - he had eaten some poisoned meatballs put down by the hunters under the olive trees outside the house to kill foxes. We got him to the vet just in time. It makes me really angry and frustrated that they feel they can use our land in such a dangerous, cavalier fashion.