Effects of wolf occurrence on the number of sheep farms in Värmland and Örebro, south central Sweden
Abstract: With the increased wolf population around the world, conflicts between wolves and humans arise. One cause of conflict is predation on livestock, which has increased in Sweden the last decade. This has resulted in negative attitudes towards wolves and it is often claimed that sheep farmers are forced to close down their operations due to losses and injuries on their livestock. If grazing ceases, shrubs and trees will take over and biodiversity could be lost. The abandonment of pastures is today a major problem across Europe. As sheep is the type of livestock most often attacked, the objective of this study was to examine how the proximity of wolves affects the sheep farmers and thus the openness of the landscape and indirectly its biodiversity. The two counties of Värmland and Örebro were included in this study, both located in the south central Sweden. To see if the presence of wolves affected the number of sheep farms, the proportions of newly established and closed down sheep farms were compared inside and outside wolf territories from 2001 to 2011. Any effects depending on how long the wolves had been present before sheep farms established or closed down were also examined as well as any delayed effects by wolves’ presence. No differences were found in the proportion of closed down sheep farms inside and outside wolf territories. Neither were there any differences in the proportion of closed down sheep farms before and after the establishment of wolves. When looking at the proportion of newly established sheep farms no differences were found when comparing inside and outside wolf territories. Areas where wolves had been present on and off even had a significantly larger proportion of newly established sheep farms. The low observed effects of wolves on the number of sheep farms might be due to the fact that Värmland and Örebro contain few sheep farms, but also because of the high rates of wolves the two counties have received large amounts of subsidies for preventative actions, such as five stranded live wire fences. A method proven to be effective in reducing the risk of predation.
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