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Feature story

The forerunner of coexistence

Overview

Giuseppe Salvi and his wife raise a herd of about 1.400 animals on Orobie Bergamasche Alps, in the highest pasture of the area at 2.400 m. He has been dealing with wolves and bears since 2000, when such animals were still seen as strangers. He respects them and knows that he should share territory with them but, on the other hand, livestock-breeding makes his living and he doesn’t want to waste his daily hard work. For this reason, since 2011 Giuseppe has joined projects allowing him to manage successfully his company and, at the same time, live together with large carnivores.


Story by

Giuseppe Salvi

Occupation

Livestock raising

Province

Lombardia, Italy


Chapter 1

Starting point

Wolves and bears are coming back to Orobie Bergamasche Alps. When I set up my business was nearly impossible to notice wolves and bears, I could let my herd pasturing freely around with no predation danger. Then, the first rumours about large carnivores occurrences started to spread out and, suddenly, fears to lose our animals became real.

The thing is that neither me, nor my colleagues had any clue about how to deal with such a new menace; to us, it was a completely new situation and the stories that were circulating were a bit daunting. Besides the emotional side of the matter (which exists, I assure you!), the thought that worried me the most was the possible effect that large carnivores comeback could have had on my business. My family makes its entire living on meat processing and I could absolutely not afford to lose sheep and goats. It’s very unlikely that shepherds like me will become large carnivores best friends, but we are aware that persecuting them is not a solution.

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Chapter 2

approach

Generally, people think that shepherds are closed-minded and rather unwilling to accept advice from the outside world. But it’s not always the case. When I was forced to address the large carnivores comeback issue, I noticed there were experiences in Italy and other countries that tried to make livestock farming in the presence of wolves and bears possible.

I thought it could have been the best solution, I looked into it and found that there were tools able to help me protecting my herd from large carnivores. The first tool I set up in 2012 was an electric fence, which has been donated by LIFE Arctos project. I was one of the first shepherds to use such a tool in the area but I didn’t care about other people’s opinions. 

Then, I noticed that there were many opportunities to improve and make my breeding activity safer: European projects, regional funding and, in general, help coming from the outside world made me managing my business with little concerns about wolves and bears comeback. I set up other prevention measures such a wolf-proof fence and three guarding dogs thanks to Pasturs project.

Livestock Guarding Dogs

Livestock guarding dogs defend the herd against attacks by wolves. They feel like part of the herd and settle down with the pet owner.  The dogs live permanently outside and defend "their" herd against all intruders from the outside. Well-trained livestock protection dogs are no danger to walkers and hikers, but these should lead their dogs on a leash. To make this work, well trained herd protection dogs are required, which are adapted to the type of grazing by the livestock. This requires regular checks made by experienced people so that the dogs do not start to behave incorrectly.

(c) Alessia Pagani 05_1.jpg

Report your experience with this tool

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

The project "Pôle Grands Prédateurs" aims to support sheep breeders whose herds are victims of lynx attacks. An important step of the project is to learn breeders the educational protocol of dogs. During this project, we developed a protection tool: the multi-herd guarding dog. We educated a dog in order to place him in one season after another with different farmers whose herds were attacked. This dog was immediately effective and stopped lynx damage. After this test, the Pôle Grands Prédateurs proposed to breeders to take one or two puppies to replace him. In this context, breeders had the experience of a livestock guarding dog, knew the benefits, and could better apprehend the arrival of a new dog on their farms. Since 2015, the Pôle Grands Prédateurs is no longer a breeding pole for livestock guarding dogs. The association continues its action of support to the sheep breeders by being a platform of discussions and putting in relation breeders who look for dogs and breeders who have puppies to place. We also take in charge directly pups placement. Besides, we organized a lot of communication actions around the theme of “livestock guarding dog as a tool of prevention against lynx predation”. Please reply to this post for more information, reach out directly to Jean-Marc Landry or go to our website: www.polegrandspredateurs.org

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

Studies of the wolf – livestock guarding dog interactions are a source of consistent data that brings new perspectives on the relationships and interactions that occur in herds, their immediate vicinity and their extended periphery. The Canovis project is a possible response to major challenges that aim to significantly improve the coexistence between extensive livestock (sheep, goats, cattle) and wolves. Thanks to scientific research, the project designs and develops concrete and adapted solutions. The discoveries we made during the first 5 years of the project are major. Our results are in the process of completely revolutionizing the knowledge of the eco-ethology of the wolf in pastoral system. Unfortunately, our financial resources are limited and this is our major difficulty to continue the project. Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Gilles Moyones.

Beatrice Jouenne

25.08.2018

Farmers and predators is a format that AlmoNature is trying to spread in both Italy and Europe. This was a non-binding measure implemented by AlmoNature in the frame of Farmers and predators in a province in the mainly Liguria Region. It specifically involved Farmers. It operated for 1 years (from 2016 to 2017) and received partial financial support from Private donors.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Haluska István, Patkó László.

Chapter 3

outlook

Prevention measures to live together with large carnivores are within our grasp. Dealing with them is not easy, but it’s necessary to implement concrete solutions like guarding dogs, which I’m very happy about. It’s not only a matter of tools, but above all of mentality. On Orobie mountains I’m noticing that it’s shifting; for instance, I’m presently working with 8 other colleagues in Pasturs project that not only does provide us with help and tools making our daily job easier, but also creates a dialogue between my world and citizens’ one. I think that it’s important to make others realize how difficult being a shepherd is.

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https://pasturs.org/

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The forerunner of coexistence

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