A series of wolf attacks against sheep and other farm animals have been reported in various cantons, particularly in the French-speaking part of the country.
To keep this from happening, Vaud and Valais shepherds are training, in cooperation with the Organisation for the Protection of Alpine Pastures (OPPAL), a number of civilian volunteers to watch over herds of livestock at night, when wolves are most likely to pounce.
The approach is a more humane way to keep wolves at bay, say those who take part in the program.
Véronique Marmet, an OPPAL volunteer, explained.
“I understand the problem of the wolf, that’s why I support this approach. We are more (interested) in the compromise than the fight.”
This is a continuation of a project launched by OPPAL in 2021, when trained volunteers were taught how to make wolf-scaring noises to keep predators at bay.
The volunteers spent a total of 8,000 hours monitoring the mountain pastures in 2021. Their work paid off, as despite several wolf sightings, no attacks actually occurred.
One hundred volunteers were found in 2021, with OPPAL looking to double that number this year.
The topic of wolves is surprisingly political in Switzerland.
In 2020, a narrow majority – 51.9 percent of Swiss voters – rejected a bid to change Swiss law which would have given cantons a greater degree of power to cull wolf populations in Switzerland.
The wolf was completely wiped out in Switzerland in the mid-1980s but saw a resurgence, with an estimated 80 present in Switzerland as at 2019, most of which are in the French-speaking west of the country.