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Damage prevention

Conflicts always have an origin: the one between wolves and humans has one of the oldest, strongest and most persistent motivations in the predation on domestic livestock. It is one of the main obstacles to coexistence: many shepherds think that the presence of wolves leads to an unbearable increase in costs, work and stress and that it must be actively contained in many areas, in some cases eliminated altogether.

In areas where the wolf has been missing for decades, farmers have lost the habit of coexistence with large predators. With their natural return, they are now forced to adapt abruptly by using damage prevention tools and extensive changes in the management of livestock. When the livestock is out in the open, it can no longer be left unattended and must be protected with the use of electrified fences and livestock guarding dogs. This means higher costs to be incurred, more stress, more fatigue, additional personnel costs and an increase in working hours.

Damage prevention

These problems are serious and real: they must be tackled in dialogue with those directly concerned, the breeders. A non-intensive and quality pastoralism is an ecological and economic value of priority interest for the landscape and protected areas: the maintenance of habitats linked to mowing meadows and pastures, the quality of alpine pasture products, the landscape, ecotourism and also cultural value of pastoral activity are elements to be protected without ifs and buts.

Much has already been done and much still remains to be done in the field of damage prevention on livestock and support for the work of farmers. The LIFE WOLFALPS EU project responds by strengthening the exchange of experience between breeders in the Alps (peer to peer communication between colleagues is the most effective one) and, above all, with the Wolf Prevention Intervention Units (WPIU), which will intervene on the field to offer help to breeders in the prevention of attacks, in finding and implementing prevention systems, in helping them to access compensation measures and support for prevention, as well as in the correct use of guarding dogs.

New guidelines for the prevention of attacks on livestock will be developed in hilly and lowland areas where wolves are making their reappearance and where breeding techniques are different from the Alpine context.

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