European Wilderness SocietyLivestock

Shepherds, hunters, farmers and NGOs agree on common wolf strategy

A joint statement called “Protect Diversity” was published by 8 diverse organisations of shepherds, farmers, nature conservation NGOs and hunters focusing on a coexistence strategy of sheepherding management and the return of the wolf in Germany.

“Natürlich sind Beutegreifer eine ernste Bedrohung. Das gibt uns aber nicht das Recht, Arten auszurotten. Die Zukunft der Schäfereien und der Erhalt der Artenvielfalt sind untrennbar miteinander verbunden. Wir arbeiten gemeinsam daran, dafür Lösungen zu finden.”

“Of course, predators are a serious threat. However, this does not give us the right to eradicate species. The future of sheep farming and the preservation of biodiversity are inseparably linked. We are working together, to find solutions.” 

Günther Czerkus, Bundesverband Berufsschäfer (BVBS)

Key principles for minimal conflicts

The wolf is back in Germany and is confronting livestock owners with new challenges. The signing organizations see prevention and compensation of wolf-attacks on livestock as a central task of wolf management, to support species conservation and livestock herding practices. They acknowledge the conservation status of wolves in the established laws. The acceptance of the wolf by people in the rural regions is inevitable for its successful return.

The organizations consider extensive livestock herding as a particularly sustainable form of land use. Their efforts for nature and landscape conservation are irreplaceable. Their businesses are confronted with big economic challenges. They are urgently in need of sustainable perspectives. This includes the prevention and mitigation of conflicts with the wolf. Economic disadvantages of livestock owners in wolf areas need to be addressed appropriately.

Key principles for minimal conflicts in coexistence of livestock and wolves

  1. Wolf management must be planned and effectively implemented. Wolf management plans should be designed and adapted by involving all stakeholders. To support these processes, a national network of competence for herd protection must be created, which focuses on previous experiences.
  2. Prevention of wolf-attacks is the primary goal of herd protection. Herd protection must be done professionally, in the entire wolf areas and has to be adjusted to local conditions. Therefore, livestock owners need suitable fences, well-trained livestock guardian dogs, training and advice.
  3. Support of herd protection should occur in the least bureaucratic way. All wolf-related investment- and maintenance costs, including labour costs, should be covered by national funding.
  4. The damage compensation for wolf-attacks on livestock is the responsibility of the public authorities. The economic consequences of an attack require quick and unbureaucreatic compensations. Not only animal losses have to be considered, but also other wolf-related business damages and consequential damages. Professional herd protection in wolf areas is required to qualify for damage compensation. In case a wolf cannot be excluded as the reason for damage, compensation should nevertheless be provided. The evaluation of damages has to be done by qualified and independent experts and in case of doubts genetic tests should be performed.
  5. The shooting of wolves is no alternative for herd protection methods. It always has to be the last resort and follow strict criteria of the wolf management. In case a single wolf repeatedly causes livestock damage, despite of proper herd protection, its shooting by an expert may be necessary to avoid further damages.
  6. Livestock guardian dogs provide essential contribution to herd protection. They live independently together with their herds on pastures. The animal welfare act has to meet the needs of those dogs, without interfering with proper herd protection. Therefore, the organizations demand an adaptation of the animal welfare act for dogs and the regulations of some countries regarding the keeping of dogs. The organizations will present corresponding suggestions.
  7. European protection of the wolf is regulated in the Habitats Directives for Flora & Fauna (92/43/EWG). Herd protection is therefore a European responsibility. There is currently no existing autonomous public body to support herd protection. Wolf-related financial assistance for livestock owners are therefore only available in tightly regulated funding laws. This results in disadvantages for the affected businesses and state budgets. The organizations demand the Federal Government and the states to establishment a public body for funding herd protection in the common agricultural politics of the European Union.

Berlin, the 31st of August 2017

Bundesverband Berufsschäfer (BVBS), Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), Deutscher Grünlandverband (DGV), Deutscher Tierschutzverband (DTSchB), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), Ökologisvher Jagdverband (ÖJV), WWF Deutschland (WWF).

Translated and fully supported by the European Wilderness Society.

Original statement available here.

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