The South Tyrolean government was a leading a voice in the call for a wolf free alpine zone. Despite this demand, the South Tyrolean surprisingly announced this week that they will support herd management support programmes effective immediately and are expecting to invest up to €1 million in 2018. As Landesrat Schuller also officially announced, already 44 sheep owners and alpine pasture associations are interested in herd management techniques to protect their sheep. In the latest decision, the European Commission decided that Member States can now fully compensate the costs.
33 sheep predated out of 25 216 sheep on pastures
South Tyrol does not have a wolf pack yet and it is estimated that up to 7 wolves roam the mountain ranges originating from Switzerland, France and the southern regions of Trentino, Lombardy, Friuli and Piedmont. There are currently 25 216 sheep on the alpine pastures. The total cost for compensation of livestock predated in 2017 by the wolf was 9 680 Euros for 33 sheep, 4 goats and 3 calves.
Government secretly hoping that herd protection fails just to save money
While officially the support programme is supposed to provide the “evidence” that sheep cannot be protected in the high mountain alpine regions, it is nevertheless an acknowledgement that sheep in other alpine regions have been successfully protected against depredation by wolves for many years. It is nevertheless astounding that the South Tyrolean government is secretly hoping that the herd management programme will fail and that sheep will get killed, presumably just to save money.
South Tyrol now a positive example for other European alpine regions
We hope that the other European alpine countries follow the example of the South Tyrolean Government and will also start to subsidize the use of anti-wolf fences, shepherds and shepherdess, herding dogs and herd protection dogs to protect the sheep. The combination of all these measures will provide a maximum of safety for the sheep and will allow the shepherds to graze for many more years the high alpine pastures.