Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Demise: Bring Back Swiss Wolves!

The return of wolves has been controversial in every jurisdiction where it has occurred.  Farmers and ranchers whose ancestors worked hard to eradicate the wolf are now forced to sacrifice their animals to this heathen beast both in the U.S. and Canada.  However, I recently noticed that even in Europe the demise of common sense is on the rise in this regard.  I happen to like Switzerland, where you can ski from town to town in winter and thoroughly enjoy the mountains year-round.  Farmers put their herds up in the high alpine meadows in the summer.  Tourists hike and/or climb wherever they like.  Imagine my surprise when I read that wolves have been allowed to re-enter Switzerland, and that the penalty for killing one is a fine and up to a year in prison.  You can only legally kill a wolf it you can prove that it has killed at least 35 sheep over a 4 month period or 25 sheep in a single month from a "protected flock" under the Bern Convention.  The problem in Valais, my favorite western canton, is that many flocks are small (20-30 sheep) thus employing sheepdogs and shepherds is too expensive and the whole herd can be wiped out because it is "unprotected".  Sheep aside, Switzerland depends heavily on tourism and needs to exterminate all wolves or tourists will go elsewhere the first time some hiker's child is attacked.  Is any wolf worth that?