Harsh winter takes its toll on wildlife

The long and harsh winter of 2008/2009 caused the highest number of deaths in wild animal populations seen in Switzerland for decades.

This content was published on August 12, 2009 - 11:25

Because the ground was covered in snow for a longer period than normal, the animals could not forage for food and their fat reserves were insufficient to make up for the deficiency, according to the Federal Environment Office which released its annual hunting statistics on Wednesday.

Overall last winter more than 23,000 roe, red and sika deer, chamois and ibex were found dead. In certain mountainous cantons the number of dead animals found was three times that of the previous year.

The Environment Office explained that many animals died of weakness because they were unable to access food between February and April.

The authorities noted that wild animals were even more weakened by having to flee when disturbed by snowshoe walkers or off-piste skiers. It stressed the importance of protected wildlife zones.

Wild boar find it easier to forage for food in their lower lying habitat in winter but the death rate among this population was also high, mainly due to road deaths.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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