Swiss Hunting and Fishing Department, the Bündner Wildhut, reports about the positive effect of the Calanda wolf pack on wildlife regulation. In the area of the Calanda mountain range (600-2800hm), very close to the city Chur in Switzerland, a wolf pack helps to naturally control the population of red deer.
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Wolves actively and efficiently control red deer populations
An detailed evaluation of the regular high-hunting gives interesting insights into the effect of wolves on the Swiss ungulate populations. The Bündner Wildhut presented the special situation of two hunting regions located on the Calenda massif in the Chur Rhine Valley. Wolves actively help to control the population of red deer in this area. Human hunters are now only regulating red deer with the normal hunt in September. Thanks to this effect, the controversially additional hunt in November and December can be cancelled. Other ungulate species show similar decreasing trends in their populations, like roe deer and chamois. In addition the Wolf is much more efficient in identifying and killing old and sick ungulates than human hunters.
The number of red deer decreased to a third of their original size, since the first Swiss wolf pack settled in the Calanda region in 2011. This beneficial reduction of the population size is a direct result of the wolves’ presence according to Georg Brosi, head of the hunting and fishing department. It should also be noted that this decrease is not threatening the deer population, but their numbers are now regulated naturally to acceptable levels for the forests to thrive, with less involvement of the hunters.
Wolves improve ecosystems and help to rejuvenate forests
In the Swiss canton Graubünden, in which the Calanda massif is located, the important role of the wolf’s presence in balancing ecosystems, has also been observed. Wolves’ effects on high ungulate populations reduced the pressure on vegetation. Deer change their feeding behaviour improving the natural rejuvenation of forest ecosystems. This positive effects on the forest, which often are securing human settlements against floods and avalanches, have been one beneficial outcome of the return of the wolves.
Other regions of the canton Graubünden have to cope with an increase of 18 percent in their red deer populations. For their regulating effect and influence on hoofed game, the wolf pack’s presence is therefore seen as a very fortunate occurrence.
“This is the most positive aspect of the wolf pack, the support for the management of red deer, roe deer and chamois”, says Georg Brosi, the top gamekeeper of Bünden.