Review of OFB’s LIFE prevention unit (WPIU) interventions in 2022
Following the 9 interventions in 2021, the two WPIU technicians were more mobilized in 2022 with 25 field missions to farmers facing predation problems. They were able to extend their field of action to two new departments: Alpes-Maritimes and Savoie.
WPIU in OFB
As a reminder, the role of the OFB’s WPIU prevention unit is to provide farmers with recommendations to try to adjust protection to the predation context. To do so, they proceed at night to observations with a thermal camera, several days in a row on the same herd. The first purpose is to observe wolf dealing with livestock protection mesures..
They also analyze the behavior of the Livestock Guarding Dogs (LGD’s), notably by equipping them with GPS collars. Camera traps can also be installed at strategic points out of sight to complete the observations.
Since 2021, 31 wolf “contacts” have been recorded, including 19 thermal camera observations. The other contacts are from camera traps and a spontaneous howl. One attack attempt without victim was observed in 2021, no attempt observed in 2022. However, two unobserved attacks were observed during the week of intervention, including one during the day.
1 long distance observation in the Hautes-Alpes in September: two wolves approach a protected herd without attempting an attack, rest nearby and then attempt to hunt several ungulates in succession. VIDEO LINK
1 observation in the Alpes de Haute Provence in April: a wolf approaches the herd, stops when a guard dog barks, goes around, tests the fence then turns back. VIDEO LINK
Observation in the Hautes-Alpes in June: a wolf detects the observers, approaches the grazing area and turns back in front of the net. VIDEO LINK
Observation in Isère in August: Passage of 2 wolves near sheep carcasses (from a recent attack) and interaction with a guard dog. VIDEO LINK
Livestock Guarding Dogs
The WPIU at the OFB is also the observation of the protection dogs (LGDs), thanks to the thermal cameras and the GPS collars which are put on the dogs. Their movements, but also their behavior in front of other LGDs, wild fauna (roe deer, foxes…), herds and humans are observed and noted in the technicians’ intervention report. Playful or even aggressive behavior can also be observed between the dogs, more rarely towards the sheep.
The final intervention report includes a summary of the pastoral system at the time of their visit, videos of the week’s observations, and also a recommendation on the means of protection adapted on a case-by-case basis for each of the always specific contexts.
The duo will continue their interventions in the field in 2023!