More Wolves, less killed sheep: Big success for livestock protection in Germany

Last month, the German state of Lower Saxony published new data on the wolf population and damages. The results indicate a clear trend: wolf packs increase, damages decrease. It is another important confirmation that proper protection measures can effectively minimise the risk of wolf attacks on livestock animals. This posting is also available in German.

Please also read: The art of proper herd management

Growing numbers, less damages in Lower Saxony

The first wolf pack settled in Lower Saxony in the year 2013. Since then, many wolves have followed and the number of wolf packs increased. By the end of 2017, the total number of wolf packs was 14 according to the provincial hunting association of Lower Saxony. Their new numbers from September 2018 show that there are currently 6 new wolf packs in addition to that.  One wolf pack settled right on the border with the Netherlands.

Despite the increasing number of wolves in Lower Saxony the amount of attacks on livestock are about 50% less. However, this contradicts many expectations of increasing damages with increasing wolf populations. While there were 159 attacks where 403 animals died in 2017, there were only 75 attacks on 203 animals so far in 2018. Although 2018 is not over yet, these number already indicate the positive effect of proper livestock protection measures.


Livestock protection works

The provincial government and other organisations in Lower Saxony have been investing in the implementation of proper livestock protection for the past years. These efforts aim to inform livestock owners in the province, provide material support, and help with the implementation of protection measures. The sharp decline in livestock depredation is a clear indicator that wolves go for other food sources, like the abundant wildlife in forests.

Just recently European Wilderness Society participated in a Livestock protection fencing workshop in Lower Saxony, organised by the Naturschutzbund in Germany. In particular, the event focused on the proper use of guarding dogs, installing mobile fences, and building fixed fences to protect horses.

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The only way forward

From examples all over Europe, we know that wolves are coming back. First of all, killing them has the opposite of desired effect, as various studies showed. Besides that, allowing culling to supposedly increase social acceptance, does not lead to a sustainable coexistence. Proper electric fences, guarding dogs, night enclosures and even shepherds are the key to move forward. Consequently, Lower Saxony confirms this strategy again.

Find more information on the historical distribution of the wolf in Germany here.

Wolf packs in Lower Saxony (by September 2018)

The data is available on the WolfsMonitoring website of Lower Saxony.

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