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Wolf attacks on livestock prompt Swiss calls for culls

By Earle Gale in London | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-09 10:20

Killer wolves terrorizing livestock in the remote mountains of Switzerland have prompted calls for culls of the predators.

Several farmers highlighted the situation over the weekend by dumping the bodies of 12 bloodied sheep outside Chateau Saint-Maire, the headquarters of the regional government of the Vaud region, western Switzerland.

Farmers at a protest in the city of Lausanne told officials the dead sheep had all been killed by wolves, and that a cull of the predators was sorely needed, Agence France-Presse reported.

Eric Herb, a farmer and member of the group calling for more regulation of large predators, told the Swiss Keystone-SDA news agency: "These sheep were killed last night. It is really time to act. The breeders have played nice until now, but this time it was too much."

Patrick Perroud, a local farmer and butcher, added: "We are sick of this… Cohabitation is not possible. Our territory is too small."

Saturday's protest was supported by the regional chapter of Switzerland's largest political party, the populist right-wing Swiss People's Party.

However, environmentalists in the landlocked central European country of 9 million people said wolves should not be attacked, but celebrated. Conflicts with farmers led to the eradication of the wolf population in Switzerland and much of Europe more than 100 years ago, but the large canines have successfully returned in recent years, after reintroductions, breeding programs and greater levels of protection that have outlawed their killing, unless under license from the authorities.

Resurgent population

The first pack to be seen in the Alpine nation following the century-long absence was recorded in 2012. The population of wolves has steadily climbed ever since, totaling about 300 today, in about 32 separate packs throughout Switzerland, The Guardian reported.

But farmers said the resurgent population now needs to be reduced once again.

In addition to the spate of sheep deaths in the Saint-Barthelemy area of the Vaud region, wolves have also been blamed in recent days for the killing of three alpacas in the region of Thurgau, northeastern Switzerland.

The local government of Thurgau is considering issuing a license to permit the shooting of wolves deemed responsible for those deaths, Keystone-SDA reported.

Roman Kistler, head of the hunting and fishing administration within the local government, said authorities in Thurgau believe a single animal may have been responsible.

He said experts reached the conclusion after analyzing bite marks on the dead alpacas and taking DNA samples.

Farmers involved in the weekend protest in Lausanne also want a cull and said they will keep up the pressure on Vassilis Venizelos, a member of the Green Party who is environment minister in the local government, in the hope he will authorize one.

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