Wolves are to gain better protection in Switzerland during reproductive seasons, according to new recommendations by the federal authorities.This content was published on March 11, 2008 - 16:38
The Federal Environment Office said wolves should only be hunted down in areas where they attacked a guarded flock of sheep, but not in a habitat where they are present during mating.
The Environment Office said on Tuesday that current guidelines had to be updated as more wolves were migrating into Switzerland and packs needed to be protected.
The animals gained "strictly protected" status in Europe under an international agreement after being driven to extinction in the 19th century, largely by hunting and the expansion of human settlements.
They started to return to Switzerland about ten years ago from neighbouring Italy and have begun colonising again.
At least three males and two females wolves are known to exist in the country but more are expected to arrive in the coming years and reproduce.
The conservation group, Pro Natura, said the measures would not bring any real improvements as the wolf was only protected on paper in Switzerland – the country with highest culling levels in Europe.
The penalty for illegally killing a wolf is up to one year in prison and a fine.