The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Cantons with varying degrees of success in wolf hunting

Against the backdrop of regulated wolf hunting, representatives of the cantons took stock on Monday. The cantons of Valais, Graubünden, Ticino and St. Gallen commented on the approved wolf hunts. In some cantons, the hunt was difficult.

In Valais, 27 wolves were shot between December 1st and the end of January. The canton had a permit to shoot 34 animals, but wanted to eradicate seven out of 13 packs. An appeal by environmental organizations had a suspensive effect, which is why the canton had to call off the hunt for three packs.

Of the 27 wolves finally shot in the preventive cull, 16 were pups and eleven were adults, as Nicolas Bourquin, head of the cantonal hunting, fishing and wildlife service, told the media in Sion on Monday. Four of the wolves were shot by private hunters with special permits, the others by gamekeepers.

Although not all the targeted wolves were shot, State Councillor Frédéric Favre drew a positive balance. The concept had proved its worth. With regard to the current year, he explained that the wolf hunt will open in September and last until the end of January 2025.

In Valais, a total of 71 wolves were genetically identified with their DNA. At the end of 2023, 46 of them were still living primarily in the south of the Rhone. The estimated 100 or so wolves in Valais were responsible for 401 livestock kills, compared to 405 in the previous year.

Two fifths (38 percent) of these attacks occurred on herds that could have been protected but were not. At 155 animals, this category accounted for the highest number of animals killed. 142 farm animals were killed by wolves in unprotected areas. They took 104 animals from protected herds.

Reactive wolf hunting in Graubünden

In the canton of Graubünden, 20 wolves were shot between August 2023 and January 31 of this year, which is two thirds of the wolves approved for shooting. Government Councillor Carmelia Maissen (center) also announced this to the media on Monday.

The canton originally wanted to shoot 44 of the at least 90 wolves living in Graubünden by January 31. However, 13 of these shootings approved by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) were already blocked on December 8 by objections from environmental associations. This left 31 authorized shoots. Of these, 20 were carried out.

Only 6 of these culls were carried out in accordance with the hunting regulations, which were relaxed from December 1. Until January 31, this allowed so-called proactive kills, which can also be carried out without damage to livestock caused by packs. 14 of the kills were carried out reactively under the old law after wolves had killed large numbers of sheep and goats.

The canton was unable to achieve its goal of completely eradicating four of the twelve wolf packs in Graubünden. Two of these "complete removals" were blocked by objections. In the case of the two other packs, the wolf hunt went badly.

Councillor Maissen expressed her satisfaction with the results of the wolf hunt. In particular, she pointed out that two thirds of the hunts approved up to the end had been carried out.

Leading animals and young wolves shot down

At the beginning of December, all eight wolves of the Calfeisen pack were released for shooting in the canton of St. Gallen following a ruling by the Office for Nature, Hunting and Fishing. The permit also expired at the end of January. Two wolves were shot during this time.

In the case of the two animals shot, the office assumes that they were the lead male and the lead female, according to a statement. Both animals had learned to circumvent herd protection measures and to kill livestock in protected situations.

In Ticino, the Office for Hunting and Fishing had two young wolves shot since the beginning of December. The young wolves were shot from two different packs. Both were around six to eight months old. At the end of November, the Ticino cantonal government decreed that a maximum of five pups should be shot in three wolf packs.

In the case of the third cross-border wolf pack in the Onsernone Valley, regulation is proving more difficult, according to a press release. This pack stays almost exclusively on Italian territory and only makes short "excursions" into Ticino.


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