Gudrun is currently travelling in northern Germany to film a documentary for the German channel NDR. While travelling, she visited some of the areas where the German wolf packs live. It was great to see some of the improvements on local herd management, including fencing, to protect the livestock.
We are standing in an area where wolves already managed to kill sheep before, and now we see how people should respond. This local livestock owner does not have guard dogs to protect his sheep. Instead, the owner has chosen to improve the fencing with several electric wires.
There are currently several hundreds of wolves in Germany. Since its return, approximately 17 years ago, the wolf has been responsible for a number of livestock depredations. Yet, finding a wolf-friendly solution for a sustainable co-existence is easier than one might think. Herd protection measures, like electric fencing, guard dogs and human presence have been proven to be effective and directly minimise the risk of livestock depredation by wolves in different European countries. Compare the damage of wolves to other wildlife species, and you will find that the wolf is actually only accountable for a small fraction of the yearly budget that is spent on damage compensation.
Swiss herd protection is also improving
Recently the European Wilderness Society participated in a herd protection workshop in Switzerland. The workshop was right in the territory of the famous Calanda wolf-pack. It became clear what type of herd management is effective in both open and rough terrain. Well-trained guard dogs, supported by electric fencing are crucial. Combine that with active herding and a wolf will think twice before taking another risk.
In our upcoming Herd Management Best Practice Examples from Europe Guidebook will cover these best practice examples on herd management in Europe. We expect to release the guidebook this year.