Since the 1960s, farming on alpine pastures is changing rapidly. With the return of large predators, such as the wolf, to many places, solutions for effective coexistence are urgently needed. There are still many people dependent on the livestock, which provides several regional products. It is therefore very important to talk about the topic. Thus, the European Wilderness Society organised a Citizens Engagement Activity, funded by the EU. The event took place at the Tschenglsburg in Tschengls, South Tyrol (Italy) on the 14th of December 2019. more than 60 shepherds and representatives of diverse livestock Organization took part in a lively presentation focusing on the need to protect livestock to improve the general health, reduce the loss to natural disasters, diseases and injuries and the return of the large carnivores like the wolf and golden jackal.
All participants demanded increased support from the politicians and the consumers for better pricing of agricultural products to finance the increased cost of organic farming and livestock protection.
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Handcraft with tradition
The alpine pasture farming is a traditional way of herd management in many countries. However, the knowledge of our ancestors is partly lost, as people eradicated most of the predators in the past. As a result, many farmers have different techniques to keep livestock, compared to the traditional way. In the past it was very important that the shepherd took care of the herd. The main reason was to be on the look out for large predators, which could kill animals of the herd. Therefore, shepherds had livestock guarding dogs. These livestock guarding dogs are very reliable, because they usually grow up together with the herd.
With the natural return of large carnivores to the Alpine region, it is important to demonstrate effective measures to allow coexistence between people and wildlife. Implementing effective livestock protection measures is therefore key.
As the alpine wolf population continues to expand slowly, solutions and strategies for coexistence between wildlife and livestock farmers are needed. With this Citizens Engagement Activity, the European Wilderness Society is inviting livestock owners and farmers from the region to meet and discuss current challenges and possible solutions.