Marginal shepherds, immigrating wolves and central EU regulations. Negotiating an uneven relationship.
Elisabeth Tauber (Free University Bolzano)
Paper short abstract:
"EC Environment" targets to protect and reintroduce endangered plants and animals. One of the consequences of this policy is the return of the wolf in some regions of the Alps, which leads to shepherds withdrawing from alpine pastures with their flocks.
Paper long abstract:
This paper deals with a conflictual relationship between new (animal) intruders and old marginalized humans, a situation which at present is regulated through a centralized EU institution. Shepherds in South Tyrolean valleys are known to locals as reticent persons who would stay with the animals on the high altitude pastures during the summer while getting a seasonal job at the ski lift in the valley in winter. However, two years ago some of them appeared with their flocks during summer in the valley stating that they would not remain on the alpine pasture as 'the wolf' had killed sheep and would threaten their flocks. Outraged shepherds and farmers in the Alps and all over Europe report similar experiences complaining about the loss of livestock, protesting against EU regulations with lightening 'warning fires'. This paper looks at the relationship between shepherds with their domesticated flocks and immigrating wolves. It investigates how EU regulations on the protection of wild animals are perceived at a local level. How can this relationship between marginalized people (as is often the case with shepherds), immigrating wild animals (perceived as bringing back 'uncivilized' traces of the South and East of Europe) and urban bureaucrats of Brussels be contextualized?
People and wilderness coming back - negotiating mobility and 'immobility': the case of the Alps and other European mountainous regions