Farmers' union demands action after wolf attacks kill livestock
The Swiss Farmers’ Union is urging the government to help them find new solutions to wolf attacks on their Alpine livestock.
Spate of wolf attacks in Switzerland raises fresh concerns
Wolf attacks on farmers’ livestock is not rare in Switzerland, especially in the mountains. However in recent months there have been several incidents involving wolves killing calves and cattle.
Given that the price of a cow can vary greatly between 1.500 and 150.000 Swiss francs, depending on the breed, it is no surprise that farmers in Switzerland are trying desperately to protect their cattle from more wolf attacks. Sheep are also pricey - costing anything between 1.000 and 10.000 Swiss francs each.
Farmers say the attacks on livestock have taken on a “new dimension”
According to the Swiss Farmers’ Union, attacks on farm animals have taken “a new dimension," with farmers asking for greater permissions when it comes to tackling the animals.
The union has asked for any applications made by farmers requesting to shoot wolves to be approved quickly, and for farmers that have been affected by livestock killings to receive financial support from the Swiss government.
Majority of Swiss voters reject plans to shoot more wolves
In September 2020, around 52 percent of voters rejected proposals that would have made it easier for farmers to shoot wolves, with the majority of those who voted “for” the plans being situated in rural counties (cantons).
The plans would have allowed wolf culling to take place without the need for prior permission from the federal authorities. As things stand, permits are only given when a farmer can demonstrate that a wolf is killing a significant amount of their livestock.
Recent incidents have led to more permits being requested
In recent weeks, the cantons of Vaud and Graubünden have asked for permission to shoot at least three wolves in response to livestock killings in the Alps. The killings meant farmers needed to move their animals down into the valley and away from where it is believed the wolves are living.
In Vaud, at least six calves were killed in the last few weeks of July, while Graubünden also saw two cattle killed by wolves. Even with protective measures in place, such as fencing and moving cattle around, it is estimated that wolves still kill 300 to 500 goats and sheep per year in Switzerland.