Two associations of protection of Nature (Ferus and À Pas de Loup) offer a voluntary help for the herding of herds. They choose and train voluntary workers who help the shepherd with the implementation of protection means and ensure a permanent presence among the herd by sleeping under a tent next to the animals. Each "eco-volunteer" stays between 2 and 4 weeks on the high mountain pastures. Although relatively marginal, this initiative allows completing the usual protective measures while encouraging the dialogue and the opening between the pastoral community and the members of associations of protection of Nature.
The other protection animals:
Donkeys and llamas can be used as protection animals: they intervene in front of intruders and alert the herd with their cries. Being herbivores, they have the advantage of requiring less care than dogs. They also live longer. However, they are less efficient than dogs against wolves.
On the other hand, they cannot protect large herds: when several individuals are present simultaneously, their gregarious instinct urges them to group together and lose interest in the herd.
Finally, it is difficult to associate them with the presence of dogs as their relationships can be confrontational.
The protection of bovines:
The protection measures applied nowadays were developed on and for herds of sheep and goats. The expansion of their natural range urges wolves towards the breeding areas of other species, especially bovines, which can become potential preys. The protective measures developed on sheep and goats cannot be directly transposed to bovines: they seem to bear less easily the presence of protection dogs and gathering them requires heavy facilities.
It is therefore crucial to think about the protection of these herds by drawing inspiration from foreign examples and by tests directly carried out in the field. In this frame, a study on the possibility of integrating protection dogs among bovine herds is currently in process in the départements of Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Drôme.
Acting upon the predator:
Other techniques exist; their action is rather focused on the predator itself than on the herd. They are mainly tested in America. These techniques of control all are non-lethal for wolves. One can notably think of:
the aversive alimentary conditioning: one coats carcasses or baits with a non-lethal substance that provokes malaises and vomiting. On principle, the predator should develop an aversion for the taste of the prey in question. Unfortunately, no study on the topic was really conclusive; besides, this technique can lead to harmful effects on non-targeted species or lead to an aversion for the carcases and not for the living animals;
the use of collars on wolves: during operations of reintroduction in the United States, some wolves were equipped with GPS or VHF collars, which allows to warn the breeders preventively. Electric collars similar to those used to train dogs can also be used: wolves receive an electric shock when they come close to equipped herds. Beyond their prohibitive cost, these techniques require the capture of wolves;
the control of the fertility of the predator: the goal is to limit the development of the predator population thanks to sterilization. The two main liabilities have to do with the fact that the current methods of sterilization are not safe in the natural milieu (risks of infection) and that a very high number of individuals (70 to 95% of the population) should be sterilized (and so captured) so as to limit the development of the population;
scaring away with sight and hearing: the principle is to generate visual and/or sound stimuli to frighten the predator. These methods seem to be efficient on small areas, when combining both types of signals. Their release must necessarily be irregular to put off the habituation effect;
- Study on the efficiency of fladries: Comparison of the efficiency of fladries and nets on wolves in captivity (before the wolves get used to it). They can be used as an emergency measure
the chemical protection of animals: one puts on sheep collars containing dissuasive substances and chemical repellents, which are released in case of a bite by the predator. However, few substances exist that are efficient on the long range and the domestic animals also are affected;
food diversion: one provides the predator with food supplement to create a "diversion". If it is carried out throughout the year, this technique can however lead to an increase of the survival rate of the predator and so of the number of individuals;
the alternative of preys: one increases the number of alternate preys (wild ungulates) by an adapted management or by releases. As in the precedent case, the survival rate of the predator can be improved.
As for now in France, only the method of scaring away has been tested. The important densities of wild ungulates do not yet justify a management taking into account the predation by wolves.