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Improving livestock protection for the direct benefit of wolf conservation in the German-speaking Alpine Region

Reference: LIFE19 NAT/AT/000889 | Acronym: LIFEstockProtect



In many regions of Europe, the wolf (Canis lupus) became locally extinct in the late 19th and early 20th century due to persecution by humans. A key argument for its removal was that this large predator threatened the survival of livestock and thereby the livelihoods of local farmers. By the 1920s, wolves were extinct in the Alps, but small populations survived in the Apennines and Dinaric mountains. Listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive, wolves have once again been populating the Alps since the 1990s. However, social acceptance is low and there is a lack of tolerance for their return, presenting a threat to wolf conservation. In particular, attitudes are negative in some parts of the agricultural sector due to livestock depredation by wolves. Livestock protection for minimising depredation, and decreasing conflicts between humans and wolves, is not acceptedby agricultural and hunting communities as an adequate protection measure. This denial is therefore linked to demand for killing wolves or even creating wolf-free zones where the animals presence is not tolerated. Such zones do not comply with EU laws and alternative measures must first be implemented to minimise the damage from depredation. However, there is no formally binding management plan on wolf population levels across the Alps, hindering international cooperation to address this conflict effectively, and national and regional legislation is inconsistent. In order to reach a sustainable, long-term solution for the agricultural sector and the environment, the first innovative farmers associations have realised that it is fundamental to define and implement effective strategies for coexistence with wolves and other wildlife, for which livestock protection is a solution.


The ultimate goal of LIFEstockProtect is to train at least 1 000 livestock farmers to implement livestock protection as a solution for improving human-wolf coexistence, contributing to long-term conservation of the wolf population in the Alps. Using an innovative conservation method and bottom-up approach, peer-to-peer training for capacity building will take place through farmers associations. LIFEstockProtect will create a transboundary network of trained experts to achieve effective implementation of livestock protection across the project areas, minimising conflict between humans and wolves in the long term. This is the first LIFE project to be coordinated by a farmers association, in cooperation with organisations from the organic and conventional agricultural sector, as well as the environmental, research and tourism sectors.

The projects specific objectives include:

  • Increasing knowledge about the necessity for livestock protection to reduce human-wolf conflicts, and providing the tools to do so, amongst 75% of the 4 000 project participants (e.g. livestock farmers, hunters, the tourism sector and lobbyists) to achieve behavioural change through concrete measures that reduce threats to wolf conservation in the Alps;
  • Promoting the use of correctly bred and certified livestock guardian dogs, compatible with national legislation, and assisting pre-emptive wolf surveillance and depredation assessments using 20 dogs trained to detect wolf scat;
  • Providing knowledge to inform young people, the press and the wider general public in the project areas, by understanding their cultural motivation, using educational and communication activities for optimal engagement and impact;
  • Establishing a volunteer and an ambassador network in each project area that will provide practical assistance to livestock farmers with implementation and promotion of livestock protection and wolf conservation;
  • Improving the quality of livestock protection material and identifying the environmental impact and feasibility of livestock protection in Alpine ecosystems; and
  • Decreasing inconsistent national and regional legislation on compensation, protection and financing of livestock protection.


    Expected results:

  • Livestock farmer training for 1 000 participants, with half accepting and implementing concrete livestock protection measures;
  • 100 livestock protection consultants trained, advising at least 500 farmers in project areas, with a minimum of 50% implementing livestock protection measures by the end of the project;
  • 20 Livestock Protection Competence Centres established, sharing know-how with at least 500 livestock farmers, half of which accept livestock protection as a means of minimising livestock depredation by wolves;
  • 20 sets of livestock protection equipment deployed, used to support at least 25 farmers in project areas, of which half improve livestock protection as a result;
  • Guidelines for breeding and certification of livestock guardian dogs developed and recommended to responsible entities in project areas;
  • 20 scat-detection dogs trained and certified, reviewed every two years to guarantee quality performance;
  • A tourism communication strategy transferred to at least 25 management organisations for tourism destinations, incorporated by a minimum of 35%;
  • Public exhibition visited by at least 30 youth groups and 30 000 people in total;
  • At least 24 000 livestock farmers reached at 20 agricultural fairs and events;
  • Youth education workshops for a minimum of 140 school classes, increasing knowledge about livestock protection and coexistence with wolves;
  • Volunteer Workforce Network with at least 250 volunteers providing practical support to livestock farmers;
  • 100 Livestock Ambassadors trained and certified in Austria, South Tyrol and Bavaria;
  • A proposal for harmonising legislation on compensation, protection and financing of livestock protection at national and regional level;
  • Guidelines for integration of livestock protection measures in the next rural development programme;
  • A total of 4 000 participants in all project activities, increasing knowledge about livestock protection and wolf conservation among at least 75%,with 50% accepting livestock protection as a suitable solution;
  • Transfer of project results to 10 third parties, with adoption by at least 15% of relevant target groups outside project areas;
  • Further increase in public acceptance of livestock protection and wolf conservation by 15%;
  • 75% decrease in depredation where livestock protection is implemented; and
  • 10% decrease in the number of wolves illegally killed.

    Reference: LIFE19 NAT/AT/000889
    Acronym: LIFEstockProtect
    Start Date: 01/09/2020
    End Date: 31/08/2025
    Total Eligible Budget: 4,899,191 €
    EU Contribution: 3,674,386 €


    Coordinating Beneficiary: BIO AUSTRIA Niedersterreich und Wien
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: Matthias Corvinusstrae 8, 3100, St. Pölten,
    Contact Person: Sabine Mayr
    Email: Send Email
    Website: Visit Website

    LIFE Project Map



    • Mammals
    • Public and Stakeholders participation


    • Agriculture
    • vocational training
    • information network
    • endangered species
    • knowledge development
    • land use


    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)


    • Canis lupus


    Name Type
    EURAC(European Academy of Bozen-Bolzano), Italy Participant
    EWS(European Wilderness Society, Verein zum Schutz der Europäischen Wildnis), Austria Participant
    BIOAT BV(BIO AUSTRIA – Verein zur Förderung des biologischen Landbaus), Austria Participant
    VUW(Vetmeduni Vienna), Austria Participant
    ÖNB(Naturschutzbund Österreich), Austria Participant
    UWD(Umweltdachverband), Austria Participant
    NSH(Naturschutzhunde – Spürhunde im Natur- und Artenschutz), Austria Participant
    BLBY(Bioland Landesverband Bayern e.V.), Germany Participant
    BUND NB(BUND Naturschutz in Bayern e.V.), Germany Participant
    BBG(Bioland Beratung GmbH), Germany Participant
    OPUS(OPUS Oekologische Planungen Umweltstudien und Service GmbH), Germany Participant
    NMS(Betrieb Landesmuseen – Naturmuseum Südtirol), Italy Participant
    ABDW(Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die biologisch-dynamische Wirtschaftsweise), Italy Participant
    ELIANTE(Società Cooperativa Sociale Eliante Onlus), Italy Participant
    ÖZ(Österreichzentrum Bär, Wolf, Luchs), Austria Participant