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The loss caused by large carnivores has not increased in recent years

Established in 2018, an exemplary carnivore prevention fence around a beehive in Valga County.
Established in 2018, an exemplary carnivore prevention fence around a beehive in Valga County.

Due to the increased awareness of livestock farmers and the widespread application of preventive measures, the damage caused by wolves, brown bears and lynx has remained at the same level in recent years.

In 2018, the Environmental Board summarized the damage caused by large carnivores to farmers, livestock farmers and beekeepers.

“Predator damage sites tell us, where large carnivore habitats are and how easily livestock or beehives are accessible to them. The populations of wild carnivore preys - deer, red deer and roe deer – are abundant in Estonian forests, so food for large carnivores is sufficient in nature. A good operational cooperation between beekeepers, livestock farmers and hunters, plus application of damage prevention measures is very important in controlling large carnivore damage,” said Tõnu Talvi, Chief Specialist of Nature Conservation at the Environmental Board.

Upon taking up any agricultural activity, there must be taken into account the fact, that wild animals try to obtain their food with minimal effort and risk, and that the use of human property should be made as difficult as possible for them to access. Each animal owner may reduce the risk of large carnivore damage via various effective preventive measures. The Environmental Board reimburses 50% of the costs incurred in preventing damage caused by the animals.

In 2018, 67 livestock farmers and beekeepers applied additional preventive measures to avoid damage by large carnivores, and these costs were reimbursed by the Environmental Board in the amount of EUR 71,429. Preventive measures to avoid damage caused by the attacks by large carnivores include electric fences limiting pastures and beehives, as well as partial reimbursement of purchase costs for guard dogs.

“Electric shepherds carefully installed and put under tension, plus herd guard dogs working on the pasture provide almost complete safety to the farmer. There are approximately a hundred sheep breeders in Estonia who, via the preventive measures applied in such a manner, have secured additional protection for their sheep herds. For example, last year we supported the employment of 21 herd guard dogs. A robust and working electric shepherd also keeps the bear away from the beehives,” said Talvi.

Approximately 100,000 sheep are kept in Estonian livestock production, and the wolf kills 0.6-1.1% of them. A much larger number of sheep die as a result of domestic traumas, deseases and accidents. Last year, the largest share of sheep victims in wolf slaughters was in Lääne County (2.8% of sheep kept in the county), the higher predatory load was still in Järva County (1.9% sheep were killed) and Viljandi County (1.6% sheep were killed). In other counties, the proportion of wolf-slaughtered sheep was within the normal range.

Last year, the Environmental Board received 312 applications from 250 different types of damages by large carnivores to compensate for the damaged farmers. The Board will compensate for the damage caused by the large carnivores for a total amount of EUR 231,455. Payments are currently being performed. Last year, wolves killed 919 sheep in Estonia, with 35% of the slaughters occurring at 3 breeders who had not applied any preventive measures. The wolves also killed 2 domestic goats, 23 calves and 16 dogs. Brown bears plundered 267 beehives in 2018. The damage caused by bears has also remained at the same level for the last 5 years, with 200-300 beehives being plundered every year. In addition, in 2018, bears killed a calf, a sheep, 7 chickens and plundered over 800 silo rolls.
Pursuant to the Nature Conservation Act and the regulations of the European Union, primary producers of agricultural products are compensated for the damage caused by brown bears, wolves and lynx, and for the costs of the measures taken to prevent such damage. The damage caused by large carnivores is fully compensated, with the statutory deductible in the amount of EUR 64 minimum to 128 maximum per year.

More information:
Tõnu Talvi
Chief Specialist of Nature Conservation at the Environmental Board
telephone: 5016 869

Sille Ader
Spokesperson for the Environmental Board
telehpone: 5745 0332

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