Wolf: Swiss referendum

“To kill or not to kill?” That is the questions the Suisse will answer tomorrow in a referendum on hunting.
If the law is revised in the terms proposed by the Swiss Parliament, the cantons, which today can only authorise shooting at a wolf in the event of ‘significant damage’, will now be able to act in a preventive manner.

If the Swiss accept the revision of the law, the gamekeepers will be able to shoot isolated individuals who have lost their fierce character. They will be able to kill wolves living in a pack before damage occurs. however, cannot be shot if they keep away from herds and populated areas.

“The aim is to protect farm animals, farmed landscapes and human beings,” explains the committee supporting the law. They assure that the new text is more protective since “only three species can still be regulated, against nearly 300 previously: the wolf, the ibex and the mute swan”.

Why are conservationists against it?
Nature conservation associations, including Pro Natura, WWF Switzerland, BirdLife Switzerland, Zoosuisse and the Loup Suisse group, opposed the reform and obtained this referendum. According to the Swiss Greens, “it would then be possible to shoot protected animals when there is only a probability that they will cause damage and not in the event of actual damage, which removes any incentive to take preventive measures to protect the herds “.
Environmentalists believe that “preventive measures – not ‘preventive fire’, such as supporting herd protection, should be stepped up to avoid conflict with predators.”

On this side of the border too, the revision of the law is the subject of debate. It must be said that wild animals in general and wolves in particular do not care about the demarcation lines drawn by men.

Wildlife photographer from Haut-Doubs now living in Switzerland, Alain Prêtre denounces, for example, “a law of slaughter” which threatens both the lynx and the ibex.

Twenty-five years after his official return to Switzerland, the wolf has settled down for a long time. On September 27, 2020, the Swiss population is called upon to vote on the revision of the hunting law, following a referendum launched by Pro Natura, WWF, Birdlife, the Swiss Wolf Group and Zoosuisse. The latter might facilitate, among other things, the conditions for regulating firing.

“It is a real disaster: the revision of the hunting law (LChP) is totally inappropriate and endangers the protection of the species as a whole”, the WWF said. “Animals like the lynx, beaver, gray heron and wolf, which have always been found in Switzerland, could be shot without ever having done any damage – simply because they exist. This is why Pro Natura, WWF Switzerland, BirdLife Switzerland, the Swiss Wolf Group and the zoos of Switzerland have launched a referendum”.

The revision of the law no longer does justice to the balanced compromise between protection, regulation and hunting, but above all proposes a unilateral change which operates to the detriment of endangered species. Protected species such as the lynx, beaver and mute swan can be placed on the list of species that can be regulated at any time, along with the wolf and ibex. Thus, these animals can be shot simply as a preventive measure, that is to say without even damage being attributable to them. With this new law, it is no longer mandatory to take precautionary measures (such as protecting herds in areas where wolves live), before having the right to slaughter animals. Many protected species are likely to come into conflict with certain human interests and therefore constitute potential candidates for the list of species that can be regulated.

Dealing with such conflicts of interest between conservation of species and interests of use is a delicate business. This new law is in no way fair to face this challenge. It serves a unilateral interest: during the revision of the law, the positive impact of protected species on the ecosystem was completely obscured. Wolves and lynxes, for example, improve the health of wildlife, and grazing damage in nurseries has also decreased. In addition, these species offer new prospects for tourism.

In short, this new law poses a fundamental societal question: how much space are we prepared to give nature?
The vote of May 17, 2020 has been postponed, the new date is September 27, 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions.

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