Ahead of International Foot to School Day, primary school children in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino were given a colourful flyer depicting kids on their way to school.
In the flyer, a smiling boy is seen riding a wolf, while a smiling girl is sat atop a stag.
Text accompanying the flyer says “Going to school on foot is good for you and for nature. If you don't have a wolf, deer or fox available for longer distances, don't forget the bike!”
The notice has caused an unexpected kerfuffle, with some critics arguing that it encourages children to engage in “inappropriate” behaviour.
Other critics have said the flyer tacitly supports Switzerland’s upcoming hunting rights referendum.
As noted by Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes, the furore surrounding the flyer shows how nerves are strained in the lead up to the referendum.
(The full flyer is shown below).
Images are ‘questionable’, ‘problematic’ and ‘inappropriate’
Germano Mattei, co-President of the organisation Habitat Switzerland Without Large Predators (Vereins Lebensraum Schweiz ohne grosse Raubtiere), opposes the referendum and says the law should allow for the wolf population to be controlled.
Mattei said the images showed that the cantonal authorities agreed with the referendum, while also providing ‘dangerous’ misinformation to parents and children.
“This contains a lot of false information and twists reality,” he said.
“Pictures of children riding a wolf accompanied by lynxes are nothing more than dangerous misinformation”.
“The primary school pupils were given flyers with inappropriate and non-educational drawings,” he said.
“Accordingly, one must assume that the Cantonal Council supports the campaign and agrees with the questionable images.”
‘Riding deer is also problematic’
On the other side of the debate, wolf advocates disagree with Mattei.
David Gerke, President of the Wolf Switzerland Group, said wolves are being unfairly targeted.
“Once again, proponents of the revised hunting law are targeting wolves,” he said.
“It's just as problematic when children ride a deer (as a wolf).”