Since 1990 wolves are strictly protected in the reunified Germany. Before this date animals that emigrated from Poland into the GDR were shot. Now (status 2011) 14 wolf packs inhabit Germany, most of them in Saxony and Brandenburg. Increasingly the presence of single wolves was also verified in other states, such as Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (in English: Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) and Bavaria. Currently the wolves seem to expand into further regions. The lynx can be found in two small populations in the Harz and the Bavarian Forest, both of which are due to active reintroductions. In 2006 a bear from Italy immigrated through Austria, into Germany. After he was classified as dangerous, he was shot in Bavaria. To date no further bears have immigrated into Germany.
For further Information about the return of the wolf, bear and lynx:
Several states have developed management plans for wolves in the meantime. Saxony, the state with the longest wolf-experience, was one of the first. Now other states are orientating the creation of their own management plans according to Saxony`s management plan (2009)Therein the following aspects are regulated:
- Monitoring of the Wolf population
- Analyzing the conflict potential (hunting, livestock and rural culture)
- Measures to limit damages and resolving conflicts
- Information- and communication concepts
Since wolves are also gradually emerging in other states, the demand for a national wolf strategy is rising. Congruently this endeavor in other states is in under process. A set of guidelines about the handling of wolves was published in the year 2007. It is a professional basis for the development of management plans. Currently under discussion is the idea, whether a joined population management plan can be created together with Poland for the West Polish-German wolf population.
In Germany shepherding fulfills an important function in landscape preservation and the extensive use of ecologically important areas. The roughly 2.5 million sheep are mostly kept in paddocks and are used for meat production. In the contrary to alpine areas, the animals are only rarely summered on pastures. 1% of the German shepherds can still be considered pastoralists today. They own about 15% of all sheep stocks. Pastoralism has a long tradition especially in southern Germany. Concurrently, goat farming (approx. 160,000 animals) only plays a marginal role.
So far, damages caused by wolves have mainly been concentrated to territories of packs in Saxony and Brandenburg. With the wolves’ slow westward expansion, these could also affect more intensively used regions in the midterm. In the Lausitz a statistic on damages has been maintained for several years already.
The protection of herds is not only concentrated on the summer months, as is done in the alpine regions. This implies that attacks by wolfs have to be expected the whole year round, if the herds are staying outside. In order to receive compensation payments for killed livestock, a minimum protection is required in Saxony. This can either be an at least 120 cm high wire-netting fence or electric fencing, which has to reach and terminate with the ground. It is important, that the wolves cannot slip through underneath the fencing. In addition more and more shepherds are now also using livestock guarding dogs. In areas, where the wolf is newly establishing itself, the farmers have a one year transition period in order to install suitable protection measures. During this transitional phase, damages caused to insufficiently protected sheep will be compensated, but not afterwards. Up to 60% of the protection measures are subsidized in the wolf areas of Saxony. Compensation payments and facilitation of herd protection measures are regulated differently in every state. In Saxony for example, everybody can apply for subsidized protection measures, in Brandenburg only full-time shepherds have this possibility.
Bavaria has also developed an information platform for the implementation of protection measures.