Parliamentarians crack down on wolves

Caught in a camera trap Canton Uri Security Directorate

Lawmakers in canton Uri have passed a parliamentary recommendation calling for stricter measures to cope with wolves. 

This content was published on February 1, 2017 and agencies/sm

The recommendation, put forward by members of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, passed in the cantonal parliament with 41 votes in favour, 16 against, and three abstentions on Wednesday. The goal of the recommendation is to reduce damage caused by wolves, with “wolf-free zones”, for example. 

Those opposed to the recommendation argued that “wolf-free” was a bad label for a canton dependent on tourism. “Do we want to build a wall?” asked leftwing Social Democratic parliamentarian Toni Moser, pointing out that a wolf-free zone was unrealistic and hardly feasible. 

It is not clear how the Uri government will implement the recommendation. Uri Security Director Dimitri Moretti said the cantonal authorities were committed to improved herd protection and an adapted wolf concept. He also called for more federal funding to cover not only the value of dead livestock, but also additional costs such as labour or transport. Furthermore, the Uri government has encouraged alternative flock protection measures. 

In the mountain canton of Uri more than 15,000 sheep graze on 60 alpine pastures each summer. Last year, a wolf of Italian origin killed more than 70 farm animals. Called M28, the wolf was shot after almost two weeks of hunting. Previously, poachers had already illegally hunted and wounded the animal. M28 was the first wolf killed in Uri in 160 years.

In canton Valais, thousands of people have signed an initiative calling for the canton to be a predator-free zone. Their initiative specifically targets the wolf, the lynx and the bear, and is designed to regulate the local predator populations more precisely. The initiative will be put to a popular vote.

With just 30-40 individuals in Switzerland, wolves are a protected species. At present, authorisation within a specific canton to shoot a wolf is given only if 25 sheep are killed by a single animal within a month. Sixty days is given for the animal to be killed. If the wolf has not been tracked down during this period, the authorisation expires.

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