Cows were recently attacked and a wolf dangerously approached a man in Graubünden: is the situation getting out of hand? Adrian Arquint, head of the cantonal hunting and fishing office of Graubünden, pleads for a measured approach.
Are wolves becoming a problem in Switzerland?
In Val Poschiavo, a wolf followed a man for several minutes. Isn’t that getting dangerous?
“This situation is exceptional for us and deviates from the normal behavior of a wolf. It can happen that a young wolf takes longer to run away from a human, but this young one followed a person and growled at them.
Where was this person?
“On the hiking trail that starts at the Alp Grüm train station.”
Has such an incident ever happened?
“We had a similar case last year with the Beverin pack, but the person was then accompanied by a dog. The interest of the wolf was therefore perhaps more on the dog. In the case of the Val Poschiavo incident, the game warden is trying to find out if the behavior of the wolf can be explained. Possible reasons are that the wolf was injured or sick, or that it was disturbed during an attack. We are currently conducting on-site investigations.”
Do we already know which pack this wolf could belong to?
“We do not know yet. On the other hand, we can affirm that there are many wolves which have been living in Val Poschiavo for a few months since attacks by farm animals have been observed. We know there are at least one or two wolves in the area.”
Only recently have there been attacks on cows. What’s been going on with the wolves lately?
“It’s hard to say. We are currently in a phase of exponential growth of the wolf population – not just in Graubünden, but throughout Switzerland and throughout Europe. This means that the greater the number of wolves, the more likely it is that individuals or packs will behave in ways that cause conflict.”
What can the Cantonal Services of Graubünden now do in Val Poschiavo?
“It is first of all important to inform the population about the rules of behavior to adopt in the event of an encounter with a wolf. Today, this can happen throughout the canton. In addition, of course, we have to carry out on-site verifications and observation. Maybe there really is a reason for this wolf’s behavior. But if there were to be an accumulation of such incidents, then it would have to be determined whether there is a risk to humans. At that time, the canton should discuss possible measures to be taken with the Confederation.
The wolf population continues to grow. Will there be a shortage of space in Switzerland?
“From an ecological point of view, the wolf population could continue to double every two or three years. On the other hand, if it is a question of the acceptance of the population and of agriculture, we have certainly reached a limit. From the point of view of the cantonal hunting and fishing service, it would be desirable for us to be able to regulate the populations in a preventive manner, without endangering them. This is also done for other animals, such as the ibex. But according to the law in force, it is necessary that there are conflicts or important damages so that we can intervene. This is no longer possible in the current wolf colonization phase. We need instruments to be able to intervene earlier. This is where the legislator is called upon to intervene.
How to behave if you meet a wolf?
- Remain calm and try to understand the situation.
- As a rule, a wolf takes flight. If he doesn’t: keep calm and get attention with a determined voice.
- Withdraw slowly, never approach the wolf, even for a photo.
- Never chase a wolf.
- Avoid the area of a den.
- Do not feed the wolves under any circumstances.
- Do not throw leftover food into the forest, even in small quantities, as this could attract wolves.
- Keep dogs under control and on a leash, as they may be seen as potential intruders by wolves.
- Report abnormally behaving wolves, killed animals or any contact with a wolf immediately to the wildlife warden.