Great interest in online workshop

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On 19th of July 2023, LIFEstockProtect organised an online workshop for and with active Alpine Club members (e.g. tour guides, nature conservation officers) on the topic of encounters with defensive animals during recreational sports. Following the informative presentations, there were many questions from the 50 or so participants. This was followed by a guided discussion on the possibilities of understanding livestock protection measures as cooperation in the Alpine region.

Direct encounters with bears or wolves are rare

The participants first received information on the return of the wolf and the bear in the Alpine region from Felix Knauer, wildlife biologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. The correct behaviour when encountering these wild animals was also discussed. A direct encounter between humans and bears or wolves is extremely rare, but cannot be ruled out. Always keep a respectful distance from wild animals. In bear areas, close encounters with these animals should be avoided as far as possible by always drawing attention to yourself (by talking, ringing bear bells, etc.). Whereas in close encounters with a wolf you can also try to drive the animal away by clapping your hands or similar, it is essential to adopt a calm behaviour towards bears.

Keep a respectful distance from livestock guarding dogs

Another presentation was devoted to the tasks, working methods and characteristics of livestock guarding dogs, as well as the correct way to handle them during encounters. Due to the need for protective measures for grazing animals, encountering livestock guarding dogs may occur more frequently on mountain pastures in the future. Here too, it is important to keep a respectful distance from the dog and herd. For the regulated use of livestock guarding service dogs, the project advocates a certification system that ensures that only dogs that demonstrate good social behaviour towards humans are used.

Coexisting in the Alpine region

As the project is dedicated to finding solutions to challenges in the implementation of livestock protection, the last part of the workshop was devoted to a discussion on the possibilities of harmonious coexistence in the Alpine region. The active members of the Alpine Club provided constructive contributions and also expressed their wishes. The participants said that up-to-date maps on the internet of mountain pasture areas with livestock guarding dogs would help them to plan their tours. These and other suggestions will be taken up by the project and, together with further workshops, will help to develop solutions for decision-makers in the project area.

You can find helpful videos on the correct behaviour towards livestock guarding dogs on the website of Herd Protection Switzerland:

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