The search for alternative and more sustainable food sources for the environment compared to meat produced in livestock farms (cattle, in particular) is on the rise; however, little attention has been given to the production of meat derived from the hunting of wild animals which, for millennia, has instead constituted the protein supply model. On the prestigious scientific journal “Journal of Cleaner Production” an article was recently published – among the first worldwide – that quantifies the environmental impacts related to the production of wild venison (Cervus elaphus), selectively hunted during the 2015 season in Val d’Ossola area. The original study, which is part of the “Eco-Food Supply Chain Processes” project funded by Fondazione Cariplo, was conducted with a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach, evaluating nine environmental impact categories (according to the International Reference Life Cycle Data System) including those related to climate change. The results – referring to 140 animals killed out of the 192 admitted by the Withdrawal Plan – showed that the total distance traveled by the 165 hunters for the census and hunting exits is the critical point of the supply chain, being responsible for 85% of the impact in each category. Focusing on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions by Functional Unit (4.85 kg CO2eq per kg of deer carcass) are largely influenced by the assumption of considering wild deer as a biotic resource entering the system without generating impacts (enteric methane, in particular). In this hypothesis, hunted venison represents an eco-sustainable alternative to the bovine one. Studies on meat (and its derivatives) of wild animals should be further investigated considering, in addition to deer, other ungulates (roe deer, wild boar, chamois), the extension of the supply chain to the final consumer and evaluating the sustainability of these alternative protein sources in diets.
Fiala M, Marveggio D, Viganò R, Demartini E, Nonini L, Gaviglio A (2019). LCA and wild animals: Results from wild deer culled in a northern Italy hunting district. Journal of Cleaner Production. Vol 244, 118667. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118667.