* Teenager killed, pensioner shot in his garden in hunting
* Falling numbers of hunters face calls for bans from
* Most Italian hunters over 65 years old
By Naomi O'Leary
ROME, Oct 22 Italian hunting enthusiasts have
killed 13 people and wounded 33 in shooting accidents since the
season opened in September, increasing pressure to reform
antiquated hunting laws.
The death toll swelled across the country this weekend when
a 16-year old was killed by a friend while hunting, a pensioner
was shot and wounded in his garden and a cyclist was
hospitalised after being hit with grapeshot.
Hunting groups agree with environmentalists that the law -
which allows hunters to roam on private land and discharge
firearms within 150 metres (yards) of a house - should be
changed. But the sides have become entrenched in a long-running
stalemate over how.
Among those calling for an outright ban is Daniela Casprini,
the head of the Association of Hunting Victims.
"The question is no longer about who is for and who is
against hunting. This is to stop a true massacre," Casprini said
Less than one in five Italians said they considered hunting
to be an acceptable pastime in a survey by Italian research
group Eurispes last year.
Pro-hunting groups point to a need to control populations of
species like wild boar, which can cause damage to agriculture.
Yet the shooting of deer, rabbits and birds in the country's
woodlands is the subject of a rift between a more ecologically
sensitive younger generation and Italy's ageing hunters.
The number of hunters has declined steeply to about 700,000
from two million three decades ago, with most aged between 65
and 78 years, according to farming association Coldiretti.
The head of animal rights group Animalisti Italiani Onlus
said the accidents proved that legislation to protect rare
wildlife was ineffective.
"This explains why wolves, bears, hawks and other protected
species are found killed by firearms," said Walter Caporale.
"They shoot because something moves."
(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary, editing by Paul Casciato)