Plans to limit number of wolves and other predators in Valais, Switzerland
January 17, 2017
On Monday, a motion was put forward in the Swiss canton of Valais to limit the number of wolves, lynxes and bears. After receiving around 9,500 signatures the motion will be voted on by the canton’s 300,000 plus citizens, marking the first time such a topic will be voted on.
The motion seeks to adapt the Swiss constitution to allow the canton to decide on how many large predators should be sustained. If successful, this could open up similar actions in other cantons, where few wolves roam.
According to KORA – an organisation that studies wolves and other predators in Switzerland – there are 30-35 wolves in the country; three wolf packs in total with a number of solitary males.
Evidence of wolves in Switzerland from January to September 2016. Red = Hard facts such as observations with photos, captured (young) animals and genetic analysis. Blue = Verified reports from trained people such as kills of livestock and wild animals, tracks. Green = Kills, tracks and scats that are not verified, and signs that are not verifiable such as animal sounds or sight observation. Map by KORA.
Around 100 years ago, wolves were pushed out of Switzerland only to make a comeback in the 1990s. They returned to a hostile welcome. One of the first migrants, a solitary male wolf who crossed over from Italy to Valais in 1995, was reportedly shot one year later.
Under the Bern Convention – an international agreement on the conservation of nature and endangered wildlife – wolves are a protected species in Switzerland. But where the wolves roam, there are also masses of livestock, causing friction when there are attacks.
Currently, Swiss law allows a wolf that kills 25 sheep in one month, or 35 sheep over four consecutive months, to be killed. But unlike similar laws in the US, where hunting permits are granted to those whose livestock are killed, only the Swiss authorities can do the killing. In 2015, authorities were given the go ahead to shoot a wolf suspected of killing 38 sheep in Valais.
Main photo by Silvain de Munck, Flickr Creative Commons.
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