The canton of Valais is implementing a pilot project for the protection of sheep grazing on mountain pastures exposed to the threat of wolves. (SRF Schweiz Aktuell/swissinfo.ch)
In summer, in Valais, as in many other alpine regions, sheep are driven from the valleys up to high pastures. In recent years sheep farmers have seen their flocks increasingly under threat from the growing wolf population.
The federal government, the canton of Valais and the agriculture development agency Agridea are working on a pilot project to encourage better management of the alpine pastures.
As part of the project a study has been conducted on the 155 high mountain pastures in the canton with a view to advising sheep farmers on best practices in the protection against wolves.
The study has concluded that in the coming years profound structural changes in sheep farming are necessary. To be sustainable, pastures need fenced paddocks or the presence of shepherds or sheepdogs. The study found that 25% of high pastures are not suitable for efficient flock protection.
The canton has agreed to financially support the protection measures but the extent of this financial contribution has not yet been finalised.