Chablais, Valais, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – A wolf has killed at least 22 sheep in Valais, in the area near Vérossaz, and several others have been injured. The new killings bring to 37 the number of animals killed since mid-May. Cantons are authorized to hunt the predator if more than 15 animals have been killed in 30 days and Valais has requested the counsel of the Swiss inter-cantonal commission that makes recommendations on shooting wolves.
Authorities are investigating to see if the same wolf is responsible for all the killings.
A poll taken by the Zurich zoo in early June showed that 87 percent of those questioned would like to see a natural return of the wolf to Switzerland, TRS reported (video). The issue has been hotly debated in the past, pitting environmentalists against Alpine farmers. In December 2008 the government asked the Department of the Environment to draw up new hunting regulations that would take into account changes in the wildlife population and the impact of humans on their habitats.
One of the attacks recently took place during the day, with the shepherds present; one of the animals died from the attack and a second one from heart failure.
Federal environmental authorities note that the plan to encourage a natural return of the wolves, which virtually disappeared at the end of the 19th century, will result in more attacks. As a preventive measure farmers who send their sheep up to Alpine pastures for the summer are using more dogs to guard them, as well as donkeys, which bray loud and long if a predator is near.