After being exterminated more than a century ago, wolves have started to return to Switzerland in recent decades, as in several other European countries. Since the first pack was spotted in the Alpine country in 2012, the number of wolves has now reached 250. The corollary of this return of the predator is the multiplication of attacks on herds, to the chagrin of breeders.
To avoid the loss of herds but also wolves, a Swiss NGO relies on cohabitation: protecting wolves, keeping them away from livestock. “It is clear that the goal for us is that at the end of the season the livestock are still alive (…) and the wolves too”, explains the director of the Organization for the protection of mountain pastures (Oppal). Jérémie Moulin co-founded the organization three years ago to try to find a non-violent response to the expanding wolf population in Switzerland. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have worked for the Oppal.
Farmers angry, 1,480 livestock killed by wolves
Last year, 1,480 livestock were killed by wolves in Switzerland. To respond to the anger of breeders, the Swiss authorities authorized the slaughter of 24 wolves in 2022 and relaxed the hunting rules for this protected species this summer. But the farmers’ trade association wants more. “Wildlife wardens alone will not be enough to regain control over the exponential development of wolf populations to bring them back to densities suitable for bearable coexistence,” says the Swiss Farmers’ Union (USP) in a press release. .
Jérémie Moulin ensures that he understands the frustration of farmers, hence the idea of the Oppal to relieve them of part of their work. Up to 400 volunteers are taking part in Oppal’s monitoring program this summer, camping in mountain pastures, watching herds at night. In total, Oppal volunteers hunted predators 32 times last year.