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Tests prove wolves killed livestock

Cattle found dead and injured in an alpine pasture last month were attacked by at least one wolf originally from an Italian pack, Swiss authorities have confirmed.

There were two separate attacks on cattle from July 22-24 near Crans-Montana. Valais cantonal authorities suspected a wolf was involved and agreed on August 3 to allow one to be shot. One week later, authorities now have proof that a wolf was indeed behind both attacks.

The Federal Environment Office also said on Tuesday that sheep found dead in early July near Varneralp in canton Valais had been attacked by a pair of wolves, a genetic analysis conducted at Lausanne University has determined.

Scientists confirmed a well-known male wolf from the northwest Alps of cantons Bern and Fribourg and a female spotted last year in canton Valais were responsible.

This is the first time that a wolf pairing formed on Swiss soil has been proven. Reinhard Schnidrig, head of the hunting, wildlife and forest biodiversity section of the Environment Office, said it was unclear whether the pair already had pups.

“There is no indication but it is rather possible that the wolf pair has already had pups this year,” he said. “The end of April, beginning of May, is when they would have had them.”

Further analysis should show whether the pair is also responsible for attacking cattle, which researchers suspect is very likely.

The decision to allow a wolf to be shot has been criticised by WWF, which found the ruling “hasty” and claimed one could not “solve the problem with a rifle”.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR