by Rico Calcagnini, President of “Habitats without large predators”/the Grisons
The international rewilding lobby with its “Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe” (LCIE) and with the “Plan for the Reintroduction of the Wolf in Europe” by Professor Luigi Boitani (University of Rome) has already caused great damage in many European countries. In 90 pages, Professor Boitani offers guidance on how to reintroduce wolves, for example by recommending the release of wolves in new areas or in areas with non-viable populations. The problem was further exacerbated by the strict protection of wolves under the so-called Bern Convention. This was signed in the 1970s by many European countries, especially those that did not have wolves at that time.
In 2018, for example, in France an estimated 500 wolves killed 12,500 farm animals, despite herd protection with electric fences and 3800 guard dogs, i.e. seven dogs per wolf! Initially, these measures still had an effect, but the wolf quickly adapted to the situation and developed new strategies. For example, it also attacks during the day when the sheep are not penned in, or it attacks the herds in the pack so that the guard dogs have no chance.
In Switzerland, too, the wolf population has developed rapidly, as the example of the canton of Grisons shows. The two packs of 2018 have become seven within a good two years. In addition, the wolves are becoming increasingly brazen, losing their fear of people, circulating in inhabited areas, even on the grounds of a children’s ski school, breaking into stables, massacring farm animals in protected pastures and recently even attacking calves from suckler cow herds.
By the end of September, over 200 animals had already been ripped and killed in the Grisons, and there was an increase not only in numbers but also in the animal species: for the first time, from August onwards, at least six calves from mother stock were ripped and eaten by wolves, and for the first time in September an adult donkey was ripped from a fenced area by wolves and half-eaten.
In the name of animal and human safety and the continued existence of our alpine economy, it is high time that our national and cantonal authorities put an end to this devastating dynamic by the targeted regulation of wolves. Our mountain farmers are desperate, they are reaching their limits and will abandon livestock farming in the Alpine region in time. This is particularly true after the narrow rejection of the revised hunting law by the people on 27 September. This missed an opportunity to take a step in the right direction by giving the cantons more autonomy in regulating large carnivore populations, as has already been done successfully with other protected species, such as stone deer. For example, the animal and nature conservation organisations have disregarded the needs of the population in the mountain regions with their nationwide multi-million “no”-propaganda and have done a disservice to the species richness in the Alpine region.
The question now is how the intolerable situation in individual regions can be changed for the better and the dynamics of the spread of large predators stopped. The referendum organisations are called upon to play their part in the search for acceptable solutions, given that they have admitted the need to regulate wolf populations after the vote (“Neue Zürcher Zeitung” of 28 September 2020: “Ein Wolfsgraben spaltet das Land” (A wolf pit divides the country).
Our organisation will continue to work for the preservation and development of alpine and mountain agriculture, for biodiversity and the safety of animals, landscapes and people. It is unacceptable that large predators should be allowed to get the upper hand, that mountain farmers should be displaced and that the well-tended alpine pastures become overgrown and decay. Our Alps must not degenerate into wilderness. •
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