A country that borders France and Italy, but is not part of the European Union, Switzerland is preparing to legislate to authorize preventive shooting against wolves, which would now number about 180 in this small country. Their number has increased by 30% in one year. The attacks are increasing and causing a lot of damage to the herds. According to information published in “La France Agricole” on September 16, the initiative comes from lawmakers who believe that “the increase in wolf populations is getting out of control. Without the possibility of regulation, it threatens agriculture”, they say.
On August 31, the Swiss Federal Council gave its approval to this initiative, considering it in accordance with the Berne Convention. This convention dates back to 1979 and makes the wolf a protected species. But in the face of increasing attacks on livestock, “the Federal Council supports the objective pursued by the parliamentary initiative of effectively regulating the wolf population in Switzerland”. This regulatory proposal must be validated by the Council of States and the Parliament to enter into force. Breeders want before the rise of herds in summer pastures in 2023.
When it’s blurry, there’s a wolf
In France, too, the damage caused by wolves continues to increase in livestock departments. Mayor Jean-Paul Celet, coordinator of the National Action Plan (PNA) on the wolf, was invited to the congress of the National Federation of Sheep (FNO) of the FNSEA that took place on September 8 in Puy-en Velay, in Haute – Loire. In this mountainous department with many natural meadows, attacks on herds are constantly increasing. Also according to “La France Agricole”, Jean-Paul Celet made this declaration to the breeders gathered at the congress: “We are going to put in the next NAP, a particular chapter on the new territories of predation”. Those rather vague words haven’t convinced breeders who know the saying that “when it’s blurry, there’s a wolf”. Especially since attacks have increased by 15% in twelve months in France. While the harvest ceiling for the year 2022 was 174 wolves in our country, only 96 were killed this year, while the animal colonizes new breeding departments each year.
If the carnivore that is the wolf attacks farm animals, other wild animals such as wild boar do great damage to crops. In the vineyards, they eat the grapes before harvest. They fill the cornfields with cobs and also plunder vegetable crops and meadows where they look for animal proteins that are earthworms. It is lesser known but deer which are deer, deer and fallow deer are also growing rapidly and attacking young forest plantations. A report published in the Union de Reims on 28 August quoted officials from the Office National des Forêts (ONF) as saying that “in a forest around Reims, deer devour the most drought-resistant species, the small oak”. According to the ONF, “39% of state forests represented a forest-game imbalance in 2020”.
More deer means fewer trees in the forest
Hunting remains the most appropriate way of regulating wildlife, whether wolves, wild boar or deer. But all its predations seem secondary in the eyes of communicators from France Nature Environnement (FNE), whose text published on September 11 began like this: “While the hunt is about to take place and wild animals have been severely affected by this summer’s drought, France Nature Environnement calls on public authorities to take emergency measures to preserve game species and allow populations to recover.”
As the wolf is not a “game species”, France Nature Environnement is calling for a reduction in hunting deer, roe deer and wild boar. Also hiding the fact that wild boar populations are approaching 2 million heads. Because there are fewer and fewer hunters in France and individually hunting hare, rabbit, pheasant, partridge and wood pigeon is easier than forming a team to track big game.
Although forest fires have destroyed thousands of hectares in different regions of France this year, if we are to contain the ongoing global warming we will have to replant many trees and, if possible, hardwoods such as oak without letting them devour young plants for deer. But it seems that this reality is difficult to take into account among the “above ground” activists of the France Nature Environnement.