August 28, 2009

Swiss Wardens Seek 3 Wolves; Dead Or Alive

Swiss authorities are on the hunt for three wolves that have exceeded their kill count of sheep in western Switzerland's canton Valais.

According to AFP, authorities issued a death warrant for the wolves, which entered the country from Italy and France.

The order came after sheepherders reported that their flocks were under attack by the pack of wolves.

On the night of August 1 and 2, about 15 sheep fell prey to the wolf trio. A total of 27 sheep were killed during the month of July in the Swiss canton of Lucerne.

According to Swiss law, the predators are breaking the law, which states that predators may only kill 35 animals over a period of four months, or 25 in a single month. That kill limit drops to 15 a month for protected herds.

The predators may not be aware that they are breaking Swiss law, but authorities have given the green light for wardens to shoot them at first sight.

On August 20, authorities killed the first predator of the pack.

"When the wolf was on the way back in the early morning, it was less suspicious. It was at this moment when the warden surprised it. He was alone, 150 meters from the wolf, when he shot it," Jacques Blanc, deputy chief of Valais' hunting service, told AFP.

The remaining two wolves are currently being sought after by about 20 wardens from two cantons. The wardens have until the end of September to eliminate the predators.

But the decision to hunt down the wolves has been met with criticism from conservation group World Wildlife Fund.

"In most cases, the sheep which were attacked had not been efficiently protected," said WWF's spokeswoman Pierrette Rey.

Rey blames the August 1 attack on a fireworks display that may have frightened the sheep to run away from their pens and into the wolves' clutches.

Whatever the cause, farmers say they want the wolves to leave the region.

But Swiss Federal Office of the Environment's species management chief Thomas Briner said there are 12 known wolves in Switzerland that have yet to form into a pack, although they may eventually do so.

"At the moment, the young males are looking for new territories and the first packs will form because there are two females," he told AFP.


On the Net: