In the Austrian-Slovenian border region, farmers say there has been a dramatic increase in the number of animals killed by wolves.
Last year, in the Carinthian region, the predator killed four times as many farm animals as in the previous year.
Farmers are entitled to government compensation. The problem is, they have to be able to prove that the killer was a wolf.
Slovenian farmer Matija Juvan received only a small portion of the designated compensation because the identification tags on his sheep were lost during the culling.
“I only paid the damages for four of the 17 sheep killed,” he said.
No proof of killing a wolf means no money, the Slovenian government confirmed. This is despite the fact that the number of missing but uncompensated animals in the municipality of Matija has recently tripled.
“The sheep don’t die right away,” explained Matija, “they are in a lot of pain. It’s a complex problem, for me it’s not just about money.”
It is legal to shoot wolves in Slovenia and neighboring Austria, and ranchers sometimes use the carcass of a dead animal to attract predators.
Hunters are especially keen on targeting hybrids, a cross between dogs and wolves, as they are bolder and even enter villages during the day.
But for the World Wildlife Fund, there’s a boon for wolves. The nature conservation organization claims that wolves protect forests from being destroyed by deer.
The forest industry would save hundreds of millions of euros in damages by tolerating the predator.
“The young trees often fail to grow at all because they are eaten up beforehand by game (including deer),” explains Christian Pichler from WWF Austria, “and the wolf would help here to reduce the high game numbers.”
However, this doesn’t help farmers like Matija Juvan much.
He told RockedBuzz via Euronews his passion for hard work in the alpine terrain is waning in the face of wolf attacks.