Arrival of the wolf – simple tools, maximum efficiency
Location: Komlóska – Hungary,
Story by: István Haluska
My name is Mr. István Haluska. I’m a hunter, sheep breeder and a forester. Between the mountains of Zemplén there is a little village named Komlóska, whose mountain pastures I use to feed my flock. Recently, wolf observations became more frequent in my area so I decided to take action.
There are three large carnivores living in Hungary: the bear, lynx and the wolf. Wolves are reproducing in the country although not in many places. One of these locations is the Zemplén mountains. At this point, the new visitors only rarely cause problems for livestock keepers. That being said, maintaining a strong prevention system is very important to keep the situation this way.
My little farm under the Mountain Nagy-Papaj with a 4-hectare pasture provides an appropriate place for sheep outside of the grazing period. Security is guaranteed by my two really loyal, brave and die-hard “kuvasz” breed dogs. They constantly patrol up and down as sentinels, they “leave their signs” at the fence and in addition they always greet me with the warmest love, especially during their morning mealtime.
However, on one grim, snowy morning this warm reception had changed. When I arrived with my jeep as usual, the two dogs were not waiting for me and stamping around. Instead, they ran towards me from the mountain-side grass, answering my whistle. I did not pay much attention to this. I thought there must have been a stray dog or something on the other side of the electric fence.
During feeding my dogs always stay next to me, waiting for me to finish my work, and then leave to do their own duties. This time they had not even consumed their food properly when they started running back towards Nagy-Papaj, the mountain. The next time they greeted me with the same behaviour. They waited a little during feeding and then headed back, while looking back at me as if they were thinking “Come on!”. After I had finished feeding I went after them.
When I arrived at the edge of the electric fence I spotted that the snow, which was almost 20 cm deep, was nearly compacted to the ground in a 200 m section. I kept on investigating. To my great surprise I found huge marks on the other side of the fence in the same passage. They were wolf tracks as the National Park confirmed.
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.
As far as I know this was their first meeting with wolves – and in my opinion the “boys” passed their exam with an A+. Compliments to Béla Komlósi, breeder of this authentic, native Hungarian dog breed and to the Kuvasz-Guard Large Carnivore Conservation Programme for providing me with the dogs. My case proves that this breed is suitable and able to maintain security when faced with large carnivores.