Wolf or Dog: Who Kills More Sheep?


Many farmers who let their animals graze in the field are now afraid of wolves. But isn’t there a danger in poaching dogs? The situation is complicated.

A dog, a wolf, a fox – or even a golden jackal? The state environment office (LfU) has identified seven wolf kills in Bavaria by spring 2022 using genetic analysis; in eight cases the dog killed animals. The tracking year began on May 1, 2021 and ended on August 30, 2022, the spokesperson explained.

At the moment, the cases of mutilated animals in the Ammer Mountains are causing a stir. In the summer, the torn sheep were reported to the state agency. Fearing for their herds, Alpine farmers took their animals to the valley earlier than usual.

Ten dead animals were examined in detail. Results: The dog is responsible for the sheep’s tears. However, experts detected wolf DNA in the samples. This means that the involvement of a wolf cannot be ruled out.

This conclusion is important for the affected farmers, as it is about compensation for the damage they have suffered. LfU writes: Due to the proven involvement of wolves and the close spatial and temporal coincidence of events, damages are compensated in all cases. If only the dog was responsible for the dead animals, the government would not pay. Dog owners would then be liable if they knew.

So which animal in the pasture is more dangerous to the sheep or the calves, the wolf or the dog? A spokesman for the Bavarian Farmers’ Association (BBV) said there is no general answer: every dog ​​is different – and every dog ​​can suddenly follow its hunting instinct.

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For many years, BBV has been asking dog owners to use a leash when walking their dogs in forests and fields. Some regions even require a leash in certain places or at certain times. There is a good reason for this regulation: if a dog attacks, for example, a herd of sheep, individual animals or even the herd may panic and even break out. The dog and herd are served when the dog is on a leash.

In addition to wolves and dogs, the LfU identified a golden jackal in one case during the 2021/22 monitoring year. The golden jackal lives in Southeast Asia and Southeast Europe, among others. It is now increasingly seen in northern and western Europe. The first animal of this genus was discovered in Bavaria in 2012. In four cases, foxes killed animals.

Bavaria has a wolf management plan to protect livestock in alpine pastures and pastures. Problem: Fences cannot be built, especially in the Alps and on steep slopes in low mountain ranges.

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