ROME (Reuters) - Nine wolves, three griffon vultures and two ravens were found poisoned in Italy, probably at the hands of "culturally medieval" farmers, a national park said on Thursday.
The Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise park, one of Italy's most famous, said that within one week a pack of wolves living in the Olmo de Bobbi area just beyond its boundary had been decimated.
Though police were still investigating and tests were due, it appeared poisoned bait had been left for the animals, the park said in a passionate statement.
"The discovery in recent days of some morsels soaked in chemicals leaves few doubts and opens up dramatic scenarios as to why in 2023 there are still people linked to archaic and cowardly activities," it said, suggesting a minority of farmers were to blame and urging severe punishment.
"Criminals ... are thinking of taking the Green Region of Europe, which has become a symbol of co-existence between man and large predators, back to culturally medieval ways."
In Italy, co-existence between humans and wildlife has become an even more sensitive issue in the wake of last month's killing of a jogger in the northern Trentino region, blamed on a female bear later captured by park rangers.
Local authorities issued a culling order for the bear, which has a history of attacking humans, but environmental groups have appealed. A court is expected to rule on the matter next week.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante, Editing by Alvise Armellini and Andrew Cawthorne)