How to Avoid Depredation on Livestock by Wolf – Theories and Tests

1 Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, BG – 2700 Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
2 Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Faculty of Biology, BG – 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria


STOYNOV, E., A. GROZDANOV, S. STANCHEV, H. PESHEV, N. VANGELOVA and D. PESHEV, 2014. How to avoid depredation on livestock by wolf – theories and tests. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., Supplement 1: 129–134


To minimize and avoid Man/Predators confl ict based on depredation on livestock and to secure safe environment for the vultures in SW Bulgaria, where the usage of poison baits as a revenge towards predators is a serious threat, we have studied wolf Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758 - livestock confl ict in the Struma River Valley and surrounding mountains. We have investigated patterns over 300 verifi ed wolf attacks on livestock between 2004 and 2013.
Although we used different methodology to obtain data (namely claims for compensation instead of inquiry), but also longer period of collection, our data generally supports the statement of (Iliopoulos et al., 2009) concerning the expectations of depredation on different livestock types in terms of their availability. Most of the results we had received fully resembled these of the cited study in Central Greece.
We set up and tasted some theories in order to avoid or minimize livestock depredation as follows: 1. The higher the number of the herd, the higher the exposition to depredation; 2. The higher the number of the guarding dogs, the lesser the depredation rate; 3. The mixed herds of sheep and goats are more exposed to depredation than the herds of sheep and goats raised separately; 4. The goats are more exposed to depredation because of their grazing manner; 5. Improving the night corrals for sheep and goats eliminates the extreme cases of depredation; 6. The herds grazing on rough terrain and bushy pastures with forest patches are more exposed to depredation; 7. Shifting from sheep or goats rearing to cattle breeding may reduce the rate of depredation in a certain holding.
All mentioned theories were proven to be true with different rate of signifi cance. There are two #5 and #7 that we consider could drastically change the situation and decrease the rate of depredation over livestock in SW Bulgaria while some important specifi c measures should be applied.
We have noticed that the actual rate of depredated cattle comes from the higher portion of killed calves up to 120 kg live body mass. The total percentage of depredated cattle is 13.67% of all reported cases, (10.16% attacks over calves with less then 120 kg body mass and 3.51% cows). This might have conservation implications, if calves were kept in enclosures and weren’t exposed to predators until reaching higher body mass.
We proposed two livestock breeders to shift from sheep and mixed sheep and goat herds to cattle. Thus one of the involved livestock breeders in the experiment has shifted from 120 sheep to about 20 cows, while the other from 120 sheep and 50 goats established a new herd of 25 cows. The two herds increased soon after to 32 and 41 cows and calves respectively.
From about 40 and 60 depredation cases over the projected sheep and mixed sheep and goats herds in 2010 and 2011 the newly established cattle herds were not attacked at all for the period 2012–October 2013, although the wolf presence was still noticed in the observed areas.

Key words: Wolf, man/predators confl ict, husbandry methods, vultures, conservation, SW Bulgaria


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