The latest developments

Sensitive encounters between wolves and humans are increasing. With the approval of the federal government, the canton of Graubünden is now ordering the shooting of three young wolves. The aim is to restore natural shyness to the animals.

Ein Wolf im Tierpark Goldau.

A wolf in the Goldau zoo.

Alexandra Wey / Keystone

Newest Development

  • The canton of Graubünden is not permitted to shoot two young wolves. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has rejected the corresponding application because the damage in protected herds of livestock would be below the relevant threshold of ten animals that had been killed, said the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees on Wednesday ( 22. 9.) with. The request of the canton of Graubünden concerned wolves of the Stagias pack. A good two weeks ago, the federal government approved a canton’s application for shooting three young wolves from the Beverin pack.
  • The St. Gallen National Councilor Nicolo Paganini (center) wants to lower the threshold for wolf kills. September a parliamentary initiative , which demands that the regulation of wolves be expanded. “The wolves must not lose their fear of humans,” says Paganini, justifying his approach. The tools that the rangers have today to prevent conflicts with the wolf are not sufficient.
  • In the In the canton of Glarus, several wolf pups with a photo trap have been detected in the federal hunting banned area of ​​Kärpf. This is the second pack in the canton of Glarus confirmed, as the canton announced on September 10th. The number of wolf pups is not known; according to experts, sound recordings of the wolf howls indicate at least four young animals. In the past few weeks there have been repeated cracks in farm animals in the region. Six sheep were killed in mid-August. Two animals were injured. The pack that was in the Mürtschental and Kerenzerberg area last year has not yet been confirmed.
  • After ordering the shooting of three young wolves from the Beverin pack, the game guard managed to kill two animals. This was announced by the Office for Hunting and Fishing (AJF) on September 8th. According to the AJF, the young animals are examined in the animal hospital of the University of Bern and genetically identified at the University of Lausanne. The canton does not want to provide details about the place or time of the killings for the time being, according to the message. The reason for this is the not yet completed regulation of the Beverin pack, which lives in the area around Piz Beverin in central Grisons. The wolves had recently repeatedly approached people dangerously.
  • Because in the cantons of Valais and Vaud, despite protective measures, sheep and If calves have been killed, two young wolves may be shot in both cantons. This was announced by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) Known at the end of August. The Bafu recommends shooting the animals in the vicinity of sheep or settlements to deter them. A wolf has already been shot in Valais.

Where do humans and wolves meet?

Lately there have been more direct encounters between humans and wolves in Switzerland. The animals in the pack around Piz Beverin in the canton of Graubünden were particularly noticeable. Here on Friday (August 27th) a group of hikers came across two adult wolves in the Beverin Nature Park on the Steileralp above Sufers. According to the canton, the two animals briefly approached the tourists up to about ten meters. A little later, the hikers came across four more wolves. It was probably puppies. The young animals followed the group of migrants and then, after several efforts to drive them away, turned back to the adult wolves. The group of wolves remained in the sight of the tourists for a long time.

A few days before the incident above Sufers, there were two dangerous encounters between a shepherdess and wolves on another alp on the Schamserberg (above Zillis and Andeer), as the canton of Graubünden on 25 August announced. The first time the shepherdess was out to reconnoitre a pasture with the shepherd dog, when a wolf surprised and growled at her from behind from a distance of around ten meters. When the shepherdess drew attention to herself, the wild animal moved away. A week later, the shepherdess was surprised by three wolves in the same alpine area. They attacked the shepherd dog and only moved away when the shepherdess reacted loudly again.

Since all these incidents occurred in the range of the Beverin pack, the canton assumes that the wolves in this pack are involved. It has reproduced again this year. At least six puppies and five adult wolves were observed in the affected region south of Thusis.

How do you react when you meet wolves?

Adrian Arquint, the head of the Graubünden Office for Hunting and Fisheries, points out that wolves that grow up in the wild are not fundamentally dangerous be. They also mostly avoided contact with people. It can be dangerous if wolves get used to humans or if they are even fed. The canton has for encounters with wolves the most important rules of conduct summarized here . The most important rule is to stay calm and to draw the wolf’s attention to yourself with a certain voice. If a wolf sees people, it will usually withdraw or flee. Dogs must be kept on a leash because wolves consider them intruders or prey.

A loud voice has a signal character for the wolf, explained the predator expert Gabriele Cozzi in an interview with “NZZ am Sonntag” . For him it means: «I am strong and could be a problem for you. So better leave me alone. ” The louder you are, the more dangerous you appear to the wolf. Body size is also an important factor. In the wolf language it is synonymous with strength. That is why one should never crouch or stoop, for example to pick up stones and the like as a weapon. Better to clap your hands over your head or break off branches from trees and wave them. One should never attack the wolf. He might think that it was too late to leave and that he had to fight back. Running away is also not a good idea, it activates a search image in the wolf: the image of the fleeing prey. One should walk slowly backwards and keep one’s gaze on the wolf without staring.

How many wolves live in Switzerland?

According to the Federal Office for the Environment, around 130 wolves currently live in Switzerland. The number of packs is at least 12. The number is currently increasing.

12 wolf packs in Switzerland

According to the wild animal Management responsible for the Kora Foundation recorded 105 wolves last year. Compared to 2019, the wolf population grew by 28 animals. In the current year the Number of wolves continued to rise . There are currently around 12 wolf packs in Switzerland, six of them live in the canton of Graubünden.

Development of the wolf population in Switzerland

Number of animals (including puppies and dead)

Development of the wolf pack in Switzerland

Number of observed packs

Are there increasing numbers of tears in farm animals?

Wolves have in this year In several cantons a noticeable number of farm animals were killed. According to the canton of Graubünden, the animals of the Beverin pack attracted attention with a larger number of cracks. A large number of farm animals were attacked, which were actually well protected. Last year the Beverin wolves had killed a large number of sheep on the Stutzalp above Splügen. A donkey and a calf were even killed on Schamserberg. Also in July 2021, two donkeys were found in a fenced-in area in the range of the Beverin pack, some with serious injuries.

Increased wolf cracks were also found in the Bündner Oberland, in the Prättigau and in the Misox. In July, a ten-month-old calf was injured by a wolf on an alp in the Valzeinatal in the area of ​​the municipality of Trimmis. It was in a herd of 21 animals.

A single wolf in the Prättigau has proven to be particularly conspicuous, with numerous sheep within a short period of time ripped in a protected area. To be he attack died here in mid-June, 16 sheep. As a result, almost 700 sheep were withdrawn from the alp. The fear of the wolf presence had become too great, said farmers.

Wolves have also killed dozens of sheep in the Upper Valais in recent months. According to cantonal wolf monitoring, more than 140 sheep have already been killed by wolves in Valais this year, half of them in the uppermost part of the Rhone Valley, in Goms.

Which kills were granted?

Kills are possible against wolves and wolf packs, which behave problematically in comparison to others and despite herd protection cause great damage or endanger people. The authorities speak of herd regulation. The aim of the measure is on the one hand to keep the growth of the pack within limits. On the other hand, the animals should also be mourned by being shot down and thus become shy again.

Because of the aggressive behavior of the wolves and because they At the end of August, the canton of Graubünden had submitted an application to the responsible Federal Office for the Environment (Bafu) to regulate the Beverin pack.

On Monday (September 6th) the federal government approved the shooting of three young wolves. On the same day, the President of the Graubünden government, Mario Cavigelli, ordered the immediate shooting of three young wolves from the Beverin pack. Since the father animal in this pack had already shown problematic behavior several times, the Graubünden authorities actually wanted to shoot this parent animal as well. This request was not approved by the federal government.

The Bafu insisted that the parent animals would be spared, there the prerequisites for a shooting are not given. The shooting license is also limited to the range of the wolf pack on the Beverin, with the exception of the federal hunting ban area.

In order for the wolves to learn more about fear again, the Bafu recommends that the young wolves should, if possible, be hunted from a group of several wolves and in the vicinity of livestock herds or settlements.

Already at the end of July, the canton of Graubünden in Prättigau stated that the conditions for the shooting of a harmful single wolf were given. The damage threshold had also been reached in the area where the two wolf packs Valgronda and Stagias in the Bündner Oberland were, it was said at the time. For the implementation, however, it must still be certain that the pack has reproduced this year as well. It must first be determined how many young animals have been born. Measures could only be taken from this point in time.

Shooting permits also in Valais and Vaud

At the end of August, the federal government also decided that two young wolves may be shot in each of the cantons of Valais and Vaud with immediate effect. The canton of Vaud had previously submitted a request to this effect, justifying the fact that attacks on cattle herds on the Marchairuz had increased, and at least two calves had also been torn.

In the canton of Valais, the responsible State Councilor Frédéric Favre had already on 20 July ordered the shooting of a large carnivore. The wolf had “killed more than ten sheep in a protected situation and on an alp where no protective measures are possible”. The single wolf has since been shot.

When is a shooting allowed?

In order to do justice to the difficult situation in the areas with rapidly growing wolf populations, the Federal Council adjusted the hunting ordinance to July 15, 2021 on June 30, 2021 . After the referendum on the Federal Hunting Act, he took a step towards the mountain cantons. In the new regulation, the threshold for shooting wolves has been significantly lowered. At the same time, the conditions were improved to strengthen herd protection. Good herd protection can minimize wolf cracks, states the Federal Office for the Environment. However, attacks by wolves could never be completely prevented. The animals could learn to bypass herd protection and to specialize in cracking farm animals.

With the relaxed shooting rules, only those torn farm animals that were protected by livestock guard dogs or electric fences may be counted as damage cases.

As part of a regulation that reduces the number of wolves, only a number of wolves may be shot that is less than half of the young animals born in the year in question.

The following rules currently apply:

  • A single wolf may be released for shooting if it has ten protected sheep or goats within vie r months kills. In the case of protected cattle, horses, llamas and alpacas, the threshold is at two cracks.
  • Wolf packs may be regulated within four months after ten cracks in protected sheep or goats. The same applies after two cattle, horses, llamas and alpacas (if herd protection measures have been taken).
  • In order for a wolf pack to be regulated at all, it must have successfully reproduced in the year of regulation.
  • In areas where previously If no farm animals have been killed by wolves, a shooting of fifteen or more cracks within a month can be approved, whereby non-protected animals also count here.

What do the environmental associations say?

The nature conservation organization Pro Natura regrets that the canton of Graubünden wants to shoot wolves as a last resort. But one also regrets the cracks that were caused, explained Sara Wehrli, project manager for large carnivores and hunting policy at Pro Natura Switzerland, to the NZZ. One will now demand all documents for the firing order and examine them. Before that, she could not comment on the specific case. Pro Natura wants to decide on a possible complaint as soon as possible.

It is still too early to take stock of how delicate the situation in Graubünden actually is. Although there were several cracks in individual regions this year, the number of attacks, for example in the Surselva, has decreased significantly. Since last year there has been a strong focus on herd protection. This is now showing an effect – despite the increasing wolf population. In the first half of 2021, six more attacks were recorded in the Surselva, while there were fifteen in the same period of the previous year.

How does the herd protection work?

After the first major damage to farm animals by the wolf in 1995, farm animal owners and authorities gained experience with various herd protection measures. Herd protection dogs and electric fences are now considered to be particularly effective, often in combination with hospitality. However, effective herd protection measures are labor-intensive and time-consuming and, depending on the size of the herd, require several workers and dogs. The Federal Office for the Environment supports the purchase of an officially recognized herd protection dog with a one-time start-up aid per dog and an annual maintenance payment per dog.

In well-guarded herds, the wolf rarely has the chance to catch a farm animal, for example in confusing terrain, in bad weather, fog or otherwise poor visibility . “Good herd protection can minimize wolf cracks, but never completely prevent them,” writes the Federal Office for the Environment. Wolves could partially learn to bypass herd protection and specialize in cracking livestock.

The Graubünden government points out that great efforts are being made to protect herds. The herd protection measures, which are also supported by the Plantahof agricultural training center, have proven to be necessary. Despite the great effort, more than a hundred sheep and one goat have been torn from individual animals or packs of wolves this season. These claims figures correspond roughly to those of the previous year.

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