An Italian town renowned for its art and gastronomy is being menaced by wolves, The Telegraph reported.
There has been an increasing number of sightings on the outskirts of Siena, some 135 miles (220 kilometers) north of Rome, as the creatures nonchalantly pad along suburban streets.
The most recent sighting was in late January when a pair was spotted at Porta Camollia, on the northern edge of the Tuscan city.
They were seen by a motorist who did not manage to photograph them with his mobile phone. But he notified the authorities and officials found wolf excrement at the scene.
Pets, particularly cats, have been going missing and the mangled remains of roe deer—a favorite prey of wolves in Italy—have been found in nearby countryside.
The sightings occurred a few miles from the centre of the city.
The situation has caused such concern that the city council issued an appeal for help to Tuscany’s regional government and the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, a national body.
One factor contributing to the apex predators’ presence is the fact that much agricultural land on the outskirts of Siena is no longer farmed.
It has reverted to scrubland, which provides a habitat for roe deer and wild boar and attracts the wolves, the mayor said.
The council wants to embark on a program of clearing the abandoned land of scrub in collaboration with a national agricultural association, Coldiretti.
Residents have also been told to keep their pets indoors at night and ensure they do not leave out food waste that could attract wolves.
Trapping or shooting the wolves is not an option, as there are European laws which prohibit capturing wolves.