GREEN
04/09/2013 04:16 pm ET

Sweden Plans To Let Llamas Loose In Trial Project To Keep Wolves From Killing Farmers' Sheep

Wolf packs have become such a problem for Swedish farmers that officials have decided to rely on the natural fighting skills of llamas to fend off attacks on more defenseless livestock.

According to Swedish news outlet The Local, authorities in Sweden plan to introduce llamas to keep the wolves at bay in the southern county of Skåne.

"We know llamas have had a positive effect against cougars and coyotes in the United States, but there are no proper studies on wolves," Nils Carlsson, a predatory management expert on Skåne's County Administrative Board, told Sweden's Sveriges Radio.

The county intends to let four llamas loose on two large estates in a trial run later this month to determine if the animals can help cut down the number of sheep killed by wolves.

"We know it's not a black-and-white solution, but [if] it can decrease the number of sheep killed then we're on the right track and can consider rolling out the concept further across the region," Carlsson told The Local.

In the U.S., ranch owners have used guard llamas to keep coyotes away from sheep for the past two decades. In 2003, William Franklin, a professor emeritus at Iowa State University, surveyed ranchers who employed the technique and found that more than half of those polled "reported 100 percent reduction in their predator losses after employing the animal as a guard," National Geographic reports.

Sweden's wolf population is an ongoing issue in the country. Earlier this year, Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency authorized a wolf hunt to reduce inbreeding, however a court ruling cut the pursuit short after environmentalists criticized the plan.

Other countries in the region, which has seen an increase in sheep killings by wolves in recent years, have also sought to devise a solution. In France, for example, the government recently proposed a plan to "educate" wolves to leave sheep be and hunt for other wild animals instead.

Llamas, which are primarily used as pack animals to transport goods, are known to spit and kick when provoked, according to National Geographic. The domesticated mammal, a relative of the camel, subsists on a diet of plants.

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