Bavaria: wolf or dog: who tears more sheep?

Many farmers who let their animals graze outside now fear wolves.

Bavaria: wolf or dog: who tears more sheep?

Many farmers who let their animals graze outside now fear wolves. But doesn't the danger also come from poaching dogs? The situation is complicated.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen/Augsburg (dpa/lby) - dog, wolf, fox - or even the golden jackal? The State Office for the Environment (LfU) determined seven wolf kills in Bavaria by spring 2022 using gene analyzes, in eight cases a dog had killed livestock. The monitoring year began on May 1, 2021 and ended on August 30, 2022, as a spokesman explained.

Cases of torn animals in the Ammer Mountains are currently causing a stir. In the summer, torn sheep were reported to the state office. Fearing for their herds, the alpine farmers brought the animals down into the valley earlier than usual.

Ten dead animals were examined in detail. The results: A dog is responsible for the sheep tears. However, the experts also found wolf DNA in the samples. That means the involvement of the wolf cannot be ruled out.

This finding is important for the farmers affected - because it is about compensation for the damage they have suffered. The LfU writes: "Due to the proven involvement of wolves and the close spatial and temporal coincidence of the events, compensation for damages is granted in all cases." If only a dog were responsible for the dead animals, there would be no government payments. The dog owners would then be obliged, if known.

So which animal is more dangerous for sheep or calves in the pasture - wolf or dog? A spokesman for the Bavarian Farmers' Association (BBV) said there was no general answer: "Every dog ​​is different - and every dog ​​can suddenly follow its hunting instinct."

For many years, the BBV has been asking dog owners to use the leash when walking their dogs in the woods and fields. "In some regions there is even a leash requirement in certain areas or at certain times." There is a good reason for this regulation: "If a dog attacks a flock of sheep, for example, individual animals or even the flock can panic or even break out. Both the dog and the flock are served when the dog is on a leash."

In addition to wolves and dogs, the LfU identified a golden jackal as the cause in one case in the 2021/22 monitoring year. The golden jackal lives in Southeast Asia and Southeast Europe, among other places. It is now also being sighted more and more frequently in northern and western Europe. The first animal of the genus was discovered in Bavaria in 2012. In four cases foxes had killed animals.

In Bavaria there is a wolf management plan to protect farm animals on alpine pastures and pastures. The problem: Fences cannot be erected, especially in the Alps and in the steep slopes of the low mountain ranges.

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