Context. Mitigating wolf–livestock conflict is crucial for both wolf (Canis lupus) conservation and livestock farming. Wolf attacks at livestock gathering areas often result in surplus killing, severe economic losses and emotional distress for the farmers, and financial claims from compensation funds. They may also trigger retaliatory killing of wolves. One method for reducing attacks on gathered livestock is the fladry fence, a primary repellent based on wolf neophobia. Fladry, used mainly in North America, remains largely untested in southern Europe.
Aims. To test the effectiveness of fladry corrals at excluding wild wolves from experimental feeding sites and discuss their potential for protecting livestock in human-dominated landscapes.
Methods. We tested the repelling efficiency of fladry corrals at six stations baited with livestock remains close to the homesites of three wild-wolf packs in central-northern Greece. Using infrared cameras, we recorded approaching and feeding rates of wolves, brown bears and wild boars attracted to the baits, before and during fladry use.
Key results. The feeding rate of all wolf packs reduced to zero during fladry use. Effective repelling lasted from 23 to 157 days and ended with the removal of fladry. Wolf approaches also reduced by 75%. Modelling of wolf-approach levels showed fladry effect to be stronger when using a less attractive bait and weaker as pre-baiting duration or wolves’ pre-exposure time to fladry increased. Fladry also significantly reduced the overall feeding rates of wild boars, whereas repellence of brown bears was poor.
Key conclusions. Fladry can be a cost-effective tool to exclude wolves from small-sized corrals, for weeks or months. It may also be useful for repelling wild boar. We recommend further testing with live-prey at the regional scale with standardised protocols.
Implications. Fladry installation at farms should take into account livestock attractiveness and wolf habituation. Fladry efficiency and deterrence duration can be improved when it is combined with other livestock protection methods. Wolf habituation to fladry can be reduced by deploying it primarily in high-risk depredation areas. Moreover, deployment soon after an attack could prevent wolves from associating specific farms with being sources of prey.