Well protected: Livestock guarding dogs on the Soy-Alm

On Sunday, the 24th of July, a group of interested people from the general public, accompanied by pet dogs, hiked up to the Soy-Alm in the Martello Valley region.

In a basin above the pasture, 150 Passeirer Gebirgsziege goats graze for the whole summer. They belong to the hut landlord of the Soy-Alm, as well as the forester in the Stelvio National Park, who guided the expedition .

Forester Philipp accompanied the excursion and descibed the tree coverage, forest rejuvenation and high deer density in the Martell, as well as the economic situations of local farms. Emigration and abandonment of farm meadows is an issue. The group experienced the most striking moment as it reached the basin: the goats grazed without fear of humans, and some even approached the group out of curiosity.

 

Philipp pointed out Athena the dog, whose dark fur made her difficult to identify among the herd. She is a Pastore della Sila, an ancient breed used for the protection of goats for centuries The experienced guarding dog soon recognised the group as benign tourists and realised that the pet dog on the leash posed no threat to the goats. Despite this perfect behaviour, Philipp advised keeping a good distance from the herd out of respect for the animals. Dog training consultant Katrin explained the livestock guarding dogs’ special behaviour and how they can be well-socialised towards humans. Well-socialised LGDs are the most important prerequisite for herding work in an alpine area heavily frequented by tourists.

This excursion took place within the framework of LIFEstockProtect and was organised by the Naturmuseum Südtirol and the Stelvio National Park/culturamartell Visitor Centre.

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