Is the return of the wolf in Europe putting pastoralism in danger?
1. Is the return of large carnivores in Europe, and the wolf in particular, putting pastoralism in danger?
Wolves do attack unprotected livestock, especially sheep on alpine pastures, but it is not putting pastoralism in danger.
In wolf areas pastoralism has to take measures to protect livestock on pastures. In many countries programmes of public authorities seek to support livestock breeders to cope with the extra work and costs along with protection measures.
For some livestock owners, however the need for prevention may be an additional reason to give up grazing livestock on alpine pastures.
2. Some european governments are discussing additional killing licences. Do you think this can help empower rural communities to accept wolves? Is killing the answer?
No. Giving the possibility to hunt wolves legally does not automatically raise the acceptance of wolves in rural communities.
3. In your experience, what are the best protection mechanisms?
In Austria we are still at the beginning of wolf recolonization and we have very limited practical experience concerning the effectiveness of livestock protection measures.
From my experience, you can keep away a wolf from livestock with for exemple, a fence that cannot be jumped over or dug under or with livestock guarding dogs, and if you use dogs you have to keep the flock of livestock together either by herding or fencing.
In practice, many details have to be considered and local people know how to use them.
In most situations an effective livestock protection can be achieved but no prevention can be a hundred percent successful.
This interview was done with Georg Rauer by WWF EPO in March 2016
About Georg Rauer
Mr. Rauer, former WWF Austria, is now working at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria. Mr Rauer is currently working on a project to help the Austrian authorities developing the management plan of large carnivores in the country.