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European country with fewer than 200 wolves to ease hunting rules

Swiss legislators have moved closer to lifting certain restrictions

The Swiss parliament has ironed out differences on proposed legislative amendments that would allow wolves to be hunted more freely. This comes after some lawmakers suggested the animals pose a threat to humans as well as livestock.

The amendments to the country’s hunting law were preliminary approved in a 104-84 vote on Tuesday.

Under current laws, a wolf can be hunted only after it inflicts a certain amount of damage and repeatedly attacks farm animals. Cantons also need to prove the extent of the damage and justify the control measures to the federal government.

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The proponents of the amendments have argued the small but growing population of wolves poses an increasing danger to livestock, while deterrence measures, such as fences and shepherd dogs, are not effective. Some right-wing legislators alleged the wolves – as well as shepherd dogs – pose a danger to humans as well.

The new rules, however, will allow preemptive hunting of wolves, although only when they are deemed to pose a “threat” to grazing animals. Game keepers will be also allowed to shoot wolves that approach inhabited areas in a “threatening” manner, as well as those that successfully evade passive protection measures for flocks. 

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Shooting wolves in line with those requirements will be allowed from September 1 to January 31 and must be overseen by the federal government in consultation with the cantons.

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Wolf packs were re-established in Switzerland in the mid-1990s after being extinct in the country for over a century, the result of a brutal killing campaign across Central Europe.

Currently, some 180 wolves, forming around 20 packs, are estimated to roam Switzerland, living primarily in the Alps. 

According to the Swiss wildlife group Kora Foundation, over 1,000 wolf attacks on farm animals are expected this year, surpassing the record of 2020, when 922 such incidents were recorded. The number of attacks has grown rapidly over the past few years, as back in 2012 only some 112 were registered.

A previous attempt to revise the hunting law and allow the preemptive killing of wolves was undertaken in 2020. Back then, however, the initiative went to a nationwide referendum and ended up being narrowly rejected. The new amendments are now ready for the final vote in parliament. Should the legislation pass and not end up subject to a new referendum, the new rules may take effect as early as next summer.

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December 14, 2022 at 12:48AM
RT

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