Hunting for Swiss wolf packs halted

A court in Switzerland has again suspended the expansion of the hunting law to allow earlier and more frequent shooting of wolves. Under new rules that came into effect in December, regional cantons would be allowed to issue permits in exceptional cases.

But within a few days this was used on such a large scale that a court - after complaints from animal organizations - has now suspended the extension. 

At the end of November, the Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU) approved applications from three cantons to shoot a total of twelve packs. This should happen in the months of December and January. Only game wardens and specially trained hunters were allowed to participate in wolf hunting. 

With the relaxation, wolves could again be shot before they caused damage. The wolf remains a protected species; only in justified cases could they be hunted if they exceeded threshold numbers. 

According to an initial count, eight of the 44 designated wolves have since been killed in Graubünden and 14 of the approximately 34 targeted in Valais. The now suspended hunting license allowed the shooting of seven of the thirteen wolf packs in Valais, which equated to around 34 animals out of an estimated population of 90 to 120 animals.

There are currently 32 wolf packs throughout Switzerland with a total of approximately 300 wolves. In 2020 there were still eleven packs with more than 100 wolves. As a result, the number of farm animals killed has also increased: from 446 in 2019 to 1,480 last year. This is especially a problem in the southern Swiss Alpine provinces where there are many sheep and goats on remote pastures.