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Well-attended training for teachers at agricultural schools in Tyrol

19 July 2023
Veterinary University Vienna

On July 10th a training course on the return of wolves to Austria was held for teachers at agricultural colleges and employees of the Tyrolean Chamber of Agriculture at the Agricultural College (LLA) in Imst. It was organised by the LIFE WolfAlps EU project in cooperation with the Department of Agricultural Education and Agricultural Law of the Province of Tyrol. This made it a two-day event including a tour to an alpine pasture on the topic of herd protection. The more than 30 participants received comprehensive information on the biology and the return of the wolf as well as on wolf management. In the subsequent discussion, the possibilities of keeping individual areas wolf-free were discussed, among other things. However, this is practically not feasible due to the large space requirements and the high mobility of the wolf. Furthermore, it was made clear in the lecture that increasing numbers of migrating wolves are to be expected from the wolf occurrences in neighbouring countries. Therefore, nationwide livestock protection measures are necessary to reduce livestock losses.

Well-attended training for teachers at agricultural schools in Tyrol - Life Wolfalps EU
On the first day, knowledge was imparted in lectures and discussed extensively. (c) L. Ende / Naturschutzbund

In a talk by the Department of Agricultural Education and Agricultural Law of the Province of Tyrol the topics of how to implement livestock protection on alpine pastures, what to look out for and the concrete costs were presented. In Tyrol valuable knowledge has been gained in recent years on several pilot alpine pastures for the successful implementation of guided pasture management through shepherding in combination with livestock protection measures. Besides protection against predators, other positive aspects of this original alpine pasture management, such as improved pasture maintenance, were highlighted. The high importance of guided pasture management for efficiently used alpine pasture forage areas was also emphasised in a presentation by the Tyrolean Chamber of Agriculture.

On the following day, July 11th, the province of Tyrol together with the “Gewalthaber” of the two-thirds court of Landeck invited to an alpine pasture excursion to the Verwallalm. After a steep ascent in warm temperatures, the participants met the 400 sheep and their two shepherdesses at an altitude of about 2,000 metres. The sheep are herded during the day by the shepherdesses with the help of shepherd dogs and accompanied by two livestock guarding dogs. In the evening, they are herded into a night pen while the guarding dogs keep watch outside. Despite the presence of bears in the region, there have been no attacks on the flock so far.

Über die Alm verlaufen verschiedene Wanderwege. Die Herdenschutzhunde sind auf Menschenkontakt sozialisiert. Zwischenfälle mit Wanderern oder Begleithunden hat es bisher keine gegeben. Dennoch ist es wichtig, dass Wanderer oder Mountainbiker wissen, wie man sich bei Begegnungen mit Herdenschutzhunden richtig verhält. Dafür wurden an zentralen Wegpunkten Informationsschilder vom Land Tirol und dem Projekt LIFEstockProtect aufgestellt.

Various hiking trails run across the alpine pasture. The livestock guarding dogs are socialised to human contact. There have been no incidents with hikers or companion dogs so far. Nevertheless, it is important that hikers or mountain bikers know how to behave properly in encounters with livestock guarding dogs. For this purpose, information signs have been set up at central trailheads by the province of Tyrol and the LIFEstockProtect project.

Well-attended training for teachers at agricultural schools in Tyrol - Life Wolfalps EU
(c) L. Ende / Naturschutzbund