Alpine farmers sound wolf alarm after livestock attacks

Wolves kill 300-500 sheep and goats a year in Switzerland. © Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

Wolf attacks on farm animals on Alpine pastures have taken on a “new dimension”, according to the Swiss Farmers’ Union, which is calling for “new solutions to contain the growing wolf population”.

This content was published on August 11, 2021 - 10:43

The union said in a statementExternal link on Tuesday it expected applications to shoot wolves to be approved quickly and without red tape. It also wants the government and parliament to quickly create new laws for a targeted wolf control as well as support for the farmers affected.

Last September almost 52% of voters rejected making it easier to shoot wolves. Rural cantons had backed the changes, which would have allowed cantons to cull wild animals that they considered problematic without asking for federal permission. The authorities usually grant permits only if a wolf kills a certain number of livestock over a period of time.

The Swiss Farmers’ Union noted there had been several incidents over the past few days: in canton Vaud six calves and in canton Graubünden two cattle had been killed. Alpine farmers in Valais and Graubünden decided to take their animals back down to the valley because they could not guarantee their safety from wolves, even with protective measures.

“It is becoming clear that the increasing number of wolves and wolf packs is endangering the Alpine economy,” the union said. “Protective measures are on the one hand expensive and on the other not always effective.”

Confirmed attacks

At the end of July, canton Graubünden announced its intention to kill at least one wolf after numerous attacks on livestock. It said the number of wolf attacks was roughly the same as in the previous year but that the attacks had moved from the valleys to the Alps.

On August 2, canton Vaud applied to the government to shoot two young wolves after several confirmed attacks on cattle.

Wolves kill 300-500 sheep and goats per year, according to the KORA foundation, which monitors carnivores in Switzerland. In comparison, each year thousands of sheep die after falling down mountains or becoming ill.

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