Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

A Swiss organisation has once more called for volunteer shepherds to scare wolves away from sheep and other farm animals, including making 'wolf-scaring noises'.

The topic of wolves has always been a complicated and political one in Switzerland. Photo by Yannick Menard on Unsplash
The topic of wolves has always been a complicated and political one in Switzerland. Photo by Yannick Menard on Unsplash

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. 

READ MORE: Swiss association seeks volunteers to scare wolves away at night

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. 

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High earners in Switzerland to get tax cut from 2023

Switzerland will scrap the ‘solidarity surcharge’ for those in the highest income bracket from 2023.

High earners in Switzerland to get tax cut from 2023

People in Switzerland’s richest income bracket will see an effective tax cut from 2023 onwards, after the government decided to abolish the ‘solidarity surcharge’. 

The ‘solidarity’ contribution is charged to people in the highest income bracket in Switzerland to pay for unemployment insurance 

A spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) confirmed to Swiss media on Thursday, after the news was leaked earlier in the week. 

This system was introduced in 2011, when the unemployment insurance scheme was in debt and more money was needed to compensate for the deficit. 

In effect, the surcharge is split between the employer and the employee. 

While the normal deduction amounts to 2.2 percent of wages (1.1 percent paid by the employee and 1.1 percent by the employer), an additional one percent, split between the two, has been deducted from gross wages of above 12,350 francs per month. 

This is the solidarity surcharge. 

These highest earners constitute 10 percent of Switzerland’s workforce. 

Since the payment was implemented, it contributed around 340 million francs annually to Switzerland’s budget. 

The reason they will no longer need to shell out the extra money is because unemployment insurance is on track to build up an equity of 2.5 billion by 2023 — a threshold that had to be reached before solidarity contributions could be discontinued.

While the government acknowledged the economic uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine, it was confident the threshold would be reached by 2023 and the solidarity payments would no longer be needed. 

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

The change will not impact people in other income brackets.