AFP – Harley Davidson enthusiasts from all over Europe planning to meet up and ride wild through the Dolomites mountain range in northern Italy have riled ecologists in the UNESCO natural heritage site.

Close to a thousand bikers mainly from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, are expected to attend the “Legend on Tour” meeting on Saturday and Sunday in the Canazei ski resort near the city of Bolzano.

An 1,600-square-metre (17,200-square-feet) tent will be erected in a Canazei parking lot, equipped with a bar and restaurant and live music sessions. The bikers are also expected to go for a spin along mountain passes boasting stunning views.

But the plans have enraged the environmental councillor for the Alto Adige region, Michl Laimer, who slams the event as “against the philosophy which lies at the heart of” the Dolomites’ status as a heritage site.

Laimer has also berated event organisers and the local mayor, calling on them to have “a greater sense of responsibility”.

Local hotelier and ecological activist Michil Costa, who was the first to draw attention to the controversial biker meeting, wrote to the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation in protest.

“The noise and smog will have a big impact on our fauna. The chamois are going to die of fear,” he said, referring to the agile mountain goats that populate the area.

“They want to turn the Dolomites into Las Vegas,” he told the Alto Adige newspaper., 23/08/2011