Safeguarding against wolves
It disappeared for over 150 years. And now it is back: The wolf! Nature conservationists are thrilled that wolves have once again become part of our natural ecosystem. But many people are fearful of these wild predators. The image of the "bad wolf" is embedded deep into people's consciousness due to the numerous fairy tales and sayings. To put an end to these fears a little explanation is needed. Many hunters, farmers and hobby and commercial livestock keepers are concerned. They consider themselves and their animals to be hugely at risk from the increasing spread of wolves. These fears are not entirely unfounded. Sheep and other cloven-hoofed animals make easy prey for wolves. It is, however, possible for people and wolves to live side by side again with minimal conflict!
Problems with wolves
Problems with wolves arise mostly in connection with hunting and livestock keeping. Other conflicts can occur with diseased wolves, hybrids or wolves that are being fed by humans.
Hunters see the wolf as a direct competitor
As wolves feed mostly on hoofed game, hunters see their hunting returns as endangered. These fears have so far not proven to be the case. Despite increasing appearances of wolves, no reductions in hunting bags have been detected. This may change in the future however. The increased presence of wolves means that the hoofed game will adjust its social structure and time and spatial behaviour in response to their existence. As a consequence, hunters will also need to adopt new hunting strategies. If, and to what extent, hunting stocks will reduce over the coming years remains to be seen.
It's not just hunters who are concerned about their animals.
Keepers of livestock like sheep, goats and fenced game fear that their animals could fall victim to wolf attacks.
Even though these cloven-hoofed animals play only a secondary role in a wolf's diet, there are repeated incidents of individual animals being killed. The reason for this is that wolves prefer to hunt animals that are easier to catch. Sheep and goats are particularly easy prey for wolves due to their smaller size and inability to defend themselves or run away.
The following measures will ensure you provide good protection for your animals:
- Install electric fences
- Keep the animals indoors at night
- Use a livestock guardian dog
These measure are recommended in all areas where wolves are present and will help minimise any damage.
Attacks on people are frequently feared, but are in fact extremely unlikely!
Humans are not considered as prey to wolves. They can sniff out the tracks made my humans from quite a distance and will avoid these areas. Conflicts occur mostly with diseased wolves, hybrids or wolves that are being fed by humans.
Rabid animals often react unpredictably and can be dangerous to people. As this disease has practically disappeared from central and western Europe, the risk of encountering a rabid wolf is very low. Intensive monitoring of wolves and rabies controls keeps the situation in hand!
In exceptional circumstances it can happen that a wolf and domestic dog mate. The resultant hybrids should under no circumstances be kept as pets. Due to the wild wolf genes, these mixed breeds cannot be raised like normal domestic dogs and can act quite aggressively towards their owners. For reasons of species conservation, mating between dogs and wolves should be avoided completely!
Problems can emerge when wolves are no longer afraid of humans. In these cases, it is most often the human who is at fault! By leaving rubbish lying around, keeping livestock near to settlements without protection or even knowingly feeding wolves, the animals will lose their natural aversion to humans. They quickly learn to appreciate the benefits afforded by being close to humans. In some cases they can turn into so-called problem wolves. These can be a danger to humans due to their lack of fear and constant need for food. For these reasons it is essential to ensure that food is not made available to wolves in areas where they are present.
Approaches to this problem
Farmers in Italy and Spain who are experienced in dealing with wolves show us how it is possible to keep livestock in areas where wolves are present. Using various protective measures you can make it almost impossible for a wolf to get near your animals. These measures can of course also be taken in Germany and thus reduce the risk of wolf attacks to a minimum.
It is important to make a wolf's access to sheep, goats and fenced game more difficult.
Animals protected with an electric fence that are kept stabled indoors at night, and possibly also watched over by a herd guardian dog, are not easy prey to wolves and will seem unattractive.
Herd guardian dogs
A very old, yet effective protective measure is the use guardian dogs. Guardian dogs are tasked with protecting your herd from attacks. So that the dogs feel closely connected with the sheep, they are introduced to them as pups. The guardian dogs grow up alongside the sheep and see them as their siblings. Many years of training are required to ensure that the guardian dog can provide optimal protection for the sheep. It takes at least 1.5 to 2 years of training before a shepherd can leave the guardian dog to watch over his sheep. Optimal protection requires two dogs per herd. If the herd is particularly large or the paddock very spacious, then additional guardian dogs may be required. The use of guardian dogs is indeed rather time and cost intensive, but offers very good protection for your sheep. Particularly well-trained dogs can defend their herds not just against wolves, but also against wild boar, other dogs and humans. For the best protection, a combination of guardian dogs and electric fences is recommended in Europe!
Special dog breeders from Switzerland and France have already been establish in some areas of Brandenburg.
Stabling at night
If no suitable fence for protecting the livestock is available, the animals should be kept in a secure stable during the night. Since wolves mostly go out in search of prey during the night, the livestock must be housed in a secure stable during the night-time hours. Long-term protection, however, can only be provided by installing an electric fence.
Enclosure protection for fenced game
Non-electric hingepoint fencing is often used for fenced game. (Hingepoint fencing, item no. 28001) To ensure that the hingepoint fencing also effectively keeps wolves away, it must be at least 1.2 m tall and have secure anti-burrowing protection. It is recommended to embed the non-electric fence at least 30 cm deep into the ground. Alternatively, a strip of woven wire that is at least 1 m wide can be laid out in front of the fence. This should be securely connected to the existing fence and fixed solidly to the ground using pegs (galvanised tension wire, item no. 44689, C-profile pegs). It is easier to create anti-burrowing protection using an electric wire set 20 cm above the ground. More detailed information for setting up an electric fence specially for wolves can be found under the heading Wolf fence.
Electric fence for defending against wolves
Electric fences are an especially effective, simple and inexpensive way of protecting sheep, goats and other livestock from wolf attacks. When they touch the electric fence, the wolves receive an electric shock. This shock is not dangerous, but is still very unpleasant, and means that the predators will keep their distance from the fenced area in future. Experts are all agreed: Fencing in animals using an electric fence provides the best protection from wolves!
There are a few things to bear in mind when selecting components to put together an electric fence with an optimal deterrent effect. Here at Electric-Fence we have long been dealing with the topic of wolf protection and have given you tips and important notes about setting up an electric wolf fence under the heading Wolf fence.