The Swiss Wolf Policy in Comparison to other Countries

Wolf Policy Research at the ETH Zurich

After the wolf’s long absence in Switzerland, its return has led to controversies. Similar comeback processes have occurred in Germany, France as well as in the USA - just to name a few examples. Problems with the wolf in these countries are perceived differently and are also managed in various ways. It is for this reason, that the Professorship of Environmental Policy and Economics from the Institute for Environmental Decisions at the ETH Zurich has investigated why the coexistence of wolves and humans works better in some places than in others. Are differing conditions and contexts accountable, for example high stocks of sheep in not easily accessible areas? Is it the quality of the wolf management plan and the within proposed measures, such as herd protection or compensation payments for killed sheep? And does the implementation of the management plan also lead to the achievement of objectives? These and many further questions were methodologically approached using policy analysis tools and through comparative studies between countries.

Documentation of Wolf Policy Research

In order for Switzerland to benefit from the experiences in wolf management of other countries and acquire a long-term national strategy, the wolf policy of the neighboring countries France, Italy, Germany and Austria, as well as the USA, were analyzed. The analysis of the situation in France and Italy was assigned by the BAFU. The wolf policies in Germany, Austria and the USA (available by Agridea on request), were covered by students at the ETH Zurich in their master theses. A further master thesis on the communication and argumentation by interest groups in the debate about the wolf in the Upper Valais was realized in cooperation with the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich.

Following these master theses, an international comparative study analyzed and compared the prevailing frameworks, the acquired management plans and their implementation status in Switzerland, Montana (USA) and Saxony (Germany). This analysis reveals similarities and differences with Switzerland. It shows if and how successful the wolf management in Montana and Saxony is and it indicates which elements can be transferred (in an adapted form) to Switzerland. Based on this analysis, specific improvement opportunities are identified for the Swiss wolf management.