A cross-border coalition of alpine regions, covering four countries, has thrown its weight behind a move to downgrade the protected status of wolves. The Association of Alpine States (Arge Alp) has called on the European Union to review wolf conservation measures.
Whilst Switzerland is not in the EU, some Swiss cantons also belong to Arge Alpexternal link that is also made up of regions in Germany, Austria and Italy. Whatever decisions are taken by the EU with regards to protection of the migratory predators would have an impact in Switzerland.
Arge Alp argues that wolves no longer need special protected status as numbers have risen to around 600 in the alps, comprising some 100 packs. At a meeting in canton Graubünden on Friday, the organization also called on better monitoring of the animals as they crossed borders between countries.
Last year, the Swiss government said it wanted to change the wolf’s status from “strictly protected” to “protected”, which could lead to more of the animals being hunted down and killed. The proposal has been approved by one house of parliament and is due to be debated in the other.
The 30-40 wolves living in Switzerland are currently protected under the Council of Europe’s Bern Convention, a binding international legal agreement. Wolves may only be hunted if they kill more than 25 farm animals within a month.
Also on Friday, a German pensioner was acquitted by a Swiss court in canton Valais of killing a wolf known as M63. The court said there was not enough evidence to prove that a bullet from his gun killed the wolf in 2016.
But the man was fined for having an unregistered firearm and for other breaches of hunting regulations.