Bernhard Feßler is about the wolf policy. Protective fences for horses are not financially viable for private owners. © Lisa Schmid/FN
Wolf attack on the horse pasture? A protective fence is supposed to help – at least that's what they say. These are no good, says an expert, on the other hand, and suggests another solution in terms of wolves.
Lower Saxony - Grazing animals do not have to fall victim to the predator wolf settled in Lower Saxony without protection - there are effective wolf-repellent livestock protection fences, at least they say. However, one expert disagrees: Bernhard Feßler is head of the capital office of the Federal Association for Equestrian Sport and Horse Breeding (FN) and has also been the wolf representative for years. What protective fences against wolves are good for horses, he answers briefly and crisply.
"Nothing," he tells kreiszeitung.de. He is not only familiar with horses, but has also been involved in the wolf for years. Livestock protection fences for horses, that's a thing in itself. Essential aspects are not taken into account when it comes to recommending these fences. One of them is that they are extremely expensive and unsustainable, especially for private horse owners. "That's financially impossible," says Feßler. A spokesman for the Lower Saxony Chamber of Agriculture also confirmed the high price to kreiszeitung.de.
Just a few weeks ago, the horses of a young woman from Aurich fell victim to a wolf attack. For one horse, this was almost fatal. A sheep farmer gave up his animals due to the precarious situation.
Agriculture expert clarifies: "Wolf-repellent fences for horses are the most expensive"
"Wolf-repellent fences for horses are the most expensive." The Mercedes under the fences is called "Hippowire", according to the spokesman. He could not give exact prices. However, an Internet search quickly reveals that a price of 100 euros must be paid per meter. However, since wolf-repellent fences, according to the leaflet of the Lower Saxony Chamber of Agriculture, must have "at least five strands", i.e. five ribbons stretched on top of each other, a wolf fence from "Hippowire" costs about 500 euros per meter.
This must be taken into account when building a livestock protection fence against wolves
- For the basic protection of horses, it is important that it is a fully enclosed, electrically charged strand or wire fixed fence with a height of at least 1.20 meters.
- The fence must have at least five strands with row spacings of 20, 40, 60 or 65 centimeters, each from the ground.
- From the fourth strand should have a maximum distance of 30 centimeters from the previous one.
- The fence should be between 120 and 160 centimeters, depending on the sex and breed of horses.
- Only durable, highly conductive and visible material as well as material approved by animal welfare law should be used.
- The pasture gate should be protected from climbing or undermining.
- The electric fence should have at least 1 joule of discharge energy at any point of the fence, as well as bring the fence to a voltage of at least 5000 volts.
Of course, there are also cheaper models. Extrapolated, however, a considerable sum is quickly created. And that's not all. "Horses place the highest demands on the fence," the spokesman said. They are large flight animals, can injure themselves more easily, which is why the visibility of the material is important. In addition: "There is no such thing as 100 percent security." The spokesman for the Chamber of Agriculture expressly emphasizes that these are not "wolf-proof" fences, but "wolf-repellent" fences, which are recommended to livestock owners in Lower Saxony to protect themselves from the predator.
Nevertheless, protective fences are repeatedly sold as a kind of "miracle cure" against the wolf. Private owners are often accused of doing a better job of protecting their animals. A Nabu spokeswoman also gives a corresponding hint in an interview with kreiszeitung.de.
Without grounding, "success equals zero" – important installation for protective fence against wolves crucial
From a livestock protection lecture by Sven Zwirner, a representative of the specialist company "Partura", from a Youtube video it is clear that the correct installation of the livestock protection fence can also become a hurdle. Very important in terms of safety is "grounding, grounding, grounding," he emphasizes in the video. Without this, there would not be enough conductivity of the fence. "Then the success is zero," says Zwirner. A special measuring device is recommended for checking conductivity. Another cost is around 50 euros.
Wolves are quite capable of jumping over protective fences, according to Bernhard Feßler. In addition, the horses are strong enough to tear down the entire fence in panic. The signal effect of an electric shock on the fence is thus absent. In short: expensive fence, but not complete protection. Private owners in particular have their hands tied. According to Feßler, politics is to blame for the misery: "This is a false prioritization of a single predator." Certainly, species protection is important. But the current situation has fatal consequences for other animals, "grazing cattle are served like a kind of buffet."
Solution to the safety fence problem: "Regionally differentiated population management" of the wolf
According to the UN wolf commissioner, only one thing can help here: regionally differentiated population management. Put simply, this means that the number of predators in certain regions is contained to varying degrees by hunting. According to Bernhard Feßler, wolf carcasses should then be left lying around in certain regions where the wolf has become a problem, as a strong signal of deterrence.
"His colleagues then know that something is deadly here." According to the FN wolf commissioner, the wolves learn in this way: "Where there is a person, a shot is fired." The wolf could thus be pushed back into the forest areas. However, if things continue as before, it could become dangerous for humans in the foreseeable future, fears Bernhard Feßler.