Shepherd: between dog and wolf … and tourists

At 14, Julien Valet left college … before finding a new path, his path with the crowds and entered another school, the shepherd. “Other than that at the school of the shepherds, we didn’t learn to manage predation or mass tourism”, two events that are extremely complicated in the daily lives of Julien and his wife Aurélie, both shepherds, formerly of the ‘Isoard (Alps), now. Puy Mary. There are no courses to understand this new reality, no transmission of knowledge from the elderly who have not yet faced it.
So you have to adapt and deal with it, learn to live together, with wolves, guard dogs, hikers and trailers who have always forgotten the basic rules of the mountains and the animal kingdom. “There are people who want to work with sheep or guard dogs, except that sheep like dogs don’t necessarily want it …”, smiled the young hired shepherd for the second consecutive season of pastoral sheep group. from Puy Maria. Breeders deliver a herd of about 568 sheep to an experienced couple from the beginning of July to the beginning of October.

Get tourists back on track …

To get this stray or bad two -legged sheep back on track, Julien picks up his weapon of choice: a smile and above all a word. Unstoppable. “When we see a hiker walking next to a herd with or without a dog, we try to communicate, to explain some safety rules: put your dog on your feet, on a leash , do not lift the cane if the guard dog is advance … There is a whole generation that has never been in contact with animals ”, explained last week the prefect the shepherd who thus takes his cane every day … as a pilgrim to avoid conflict of use and possible accidents.Incidents of guard dogs who, formerly in the Alps, led him four times in front of the gendarmes.
In this knowledge raising mission, the shepherd and the Puy Mary shepherd as well as the breeders are assisted by the mixed syndicate at the Grand site but also the State which provides information panels. Attached to fences, close to the footpaths concerned, it demonstrates the manners to be followed and invites respect for the work of the shepherds. The messages that Julien Valet considers to be more clever and not enough to prevent:
“We filmed the passages in front of one of them for 48 hours and the only person who stopped reading it was a child”, the guard complained.

Red light than to give way

“The behavior in the mountains is like the road, if you don’t put a red light but give early, there is a greater risk of accidents”, he thought of the prefect who called on the State and a joint syndicate of more damaging information, especially on the eve. at a time of summer that should see a very large influx of ridges and passages in the Cantal massif. Likewise, he welcomes more support for breeders to train their guard dogs, but also to curb these two -legged keepers in sectors where there are conflicts of use. “I agree with your language, which is moderate and enthusiastic. The important thing is to move towards peaceful relations ”, added the prefect Castel.
“The goal is not to close the mountain but to learn to work together as we do in the mixed union to avoid accidents by deviating, for example, a small part of a hiking trail”, the shepherd asked. . , which recognized the efforts made on the structure.
Because behind the postcard of the ewes framed by their patron shepherds in the Pyrenees, Tony Joanny, president of the pastoral group, recalled that the stake was no more or less than to continue an ovine breeding in Cantal. . A production in which the wolf, which has been installed at Monts du Cantal since 2018, was rejoiced-as was the destruction of mouflons in the sector-before this summer the sheep gave a response to distress to breeders.
A response that has proven itself from the first season in 2021 even if the threat of predation is never completely ruled out. The proof: since the beginning of July, three sheep have been attacked by foggy weather. New attacks raise questions of raising the device available to breeders through a notch: simple defensive shots, reinforced or even wolf brigade intervention to protect themselves from predators understanding “that he has a free McDo here”, photo by Julien Valet. The steps by which State services now look, the prefect Castel showed.

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