Damage prevention news

WPIU Field Visit: best practice for preventing cattle attacks

21 September 2021
Laura Scillitani

A meeting on the field for an exchange of best practice: this was the aim of the WPIU field visit, which took place the last 7th of September in Roaschia, in Marittime Alps.

Aim of the meeting was the exchange of best practice on the most effective prevention methods for cattle. The workshop was organized by Protected Areas of the Maritime Alps, and 30 members of the staff, from the project partners: French Biodiversity Agency (OFB), Mercantour National Park, Slovenian Forest Service, University of Veterinary Medicine of Vienna (VUW), ERSAF, Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley, Protected Areas of the Cozie Alps, Turin Metropolitan City, Liguria Region and Protected areas of Piedmontese Apennine.

The first part of the workshop was more theoretycal, with an explanation of the vulnerability of cattle to wolf predation, as well as of the more suitable prevention methods, cattle management in alpine pastures. Next, the group visited an alpine pasture in Alpe Freida, where there is a family-run farm with about 200 Piedmontese cattle. The animals are taken to the mountain pasture from the beginning of July until the end of September.

The breeder showed how the cattle is managed, and the prevention methods adopted. On the previous LIFE WolfAlps project (here the report) this farm received an electric fence, and a fladry. A water supply intervention was also put in place (in Alpe Freida in fact there were no water points for the watering of livestock): two cisterns were placed upstream of the mountain pasture connected to a system of water distribution by falling to six points of water.

In general, cattle (in particular of Piedmontese breed), implement a defensive system that involves the whole herd and this makes them a difficult prey. Isolated animals, however, especially calves, cows about to give birth or sick animals, are much more vulnerable. Normally, the herds are contained in grazing areas enclosed by a single electrified wire, but the younger animals manage to pass over and, in doing so, they lose the protection of the group and become a vulnerable prey. That’s why the use of multiple wires is much more effective.

In Alpe Freida, the same farm own about 80 sheeps and goats protected with electric fences and livestock guarding dogs.