Meeting with Hunters in Austria
Within the LWA EU project, one of the objectives is to increase hunters’ involvement in the development of the knowledge on wolves, as well as to consider their suggestions and discussion in any management strategy.
On 13.11.2021 a meeting was held with 16 people as part of the hunter’s training in Irdning-Donnersbachtal. In addition to the young hunters, the responsible trainers, who also have leadership responsibilities in the hunting community, were present.
The distribution maps of wolves throughout Europe and Austria were shown (https://baer-wolf-luchs.at/verbreitungskarten.htm#wolf_aktuel) and their further spread was discussed. The argument “wolves are released into the wild” could be contradicted. With migration ranges of 1.000 km or more it was shown that a wolf can appear everywhere in Austria. The event also showed that more information about the wolf is needed. Basically, it was agreed that in the future a management for large carnivores will be necessary. Hunters are often the first to know about the presence of a large carnivore when there is a change in the behaviour of deer. Is this the case, they can estimate how wild deer behaves in the presence of a large carnivore. Sightings of large carnivores and sometimes wildlife camera footage are also often helpful. During the discussion, it became apparent that young hunters often do not know how to behave in the presence of large carnivore. It was also discussed why a sighting should be reported, why it is important that it is reported and who benefits from it. Arguments in favour of reporting are that the information helps livestock owners and that compensation payments are only made if there is evidence of a large carnivore. Since a large proportion of the young hunters are also farmers, herd protection for livestock was still specifically addressed. At the moment there are almost only migratory wolves in Austria, which hardly cause any problems with farm animals. Should a wolf pack become native, the situation regarding the use of space by deer, especially in winter, will have to be reassessed.
It has been shown that such events with the affected stakeholders are important to correct circulating misinformation and to replace it with technically correct information. Furthermore, such discussions can eliminate prejudices and partly generate an understanding for the large carnivores.