Swiss canton of Valais grants permit for wolf shooting

Authorities in the Swiss canton of Valais have granted a hunting license for the first time to shoot a wolf. Use is made of a recently extended regulation.

The wolf in question has killed more than ten sheep in recent weeks on two Swiss steep alpine pastures of Äbnimatt and Münstiger Galen where no fences are possible.

Public pressure on the regional government of the southwestern canton of Valais has increased in recent weeks following new attacks on livestock. The protection of wolf packs falls under the national authorities, but solitary wolves under the cantonal authorities.

According to the Cantonal Wolf Monitoring, it is believed that there are two individual wolves in the area. On Tuesday evening, the responsible state council ordered the shooting of the large carnivore.

Under the Hunting Ordinance revised last week, shooting is permitted if a single wolf kills ten or more sheep or goats within four months. Before that, there was a limit of fifteen animals killed in four months. It is the first time that this Swiss provincial ordinance has been implemented. The shooting license is valid for 60 days.

Livestock farmers in the Alps say that the Habitats Directive was introduced thirty years ago to prevent the wolf from becoming extinct, but that that risk is no longer an issue. The call for the reopening of the hunt is getting louder, but politicians from almost all parties recognize that this is not yet legally possible due to the European directive. Because it is not always possible to protect livestock with fences in the mountains, an exception to the Habitats Directive is now being considered.

The proposal is now to designate small pasture protection areas for livestock where - following a decision by a four-member specialized supervisory board - wolves may be caught or, if necessary, shot. German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner recently made a similar proposal. It is also now in the election manifesto of the CDU/CSU.

In the Dutch border provinces and in Belgium, more and more voices are also being raised to relax hunting bans on geese and wolves.