The website was launched last July in Allos, in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, it allows hikers to geolocate herds and guard dogs to avoid any accident.
“They are impressive, it’s true” readily recognizes Bertrand Selosse, pastoral mediator in Allos, commune of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Long-legged, often white-haired, patous and other guard dogs have become the obsession of hikers.
” I had a lot of calls from people who wanted to know where the herds were to avoid them. There was a psychosis around guard dogs” attests the one who has been doing pastoral mediation for more than five years.
The mission of the patous is to protect the herd from predators and more particularly from the wolf. Each year the encounters between them and hikers or other dogs do not always go well.
In 2021, the Center for Pastoral Studies and Achievements Alpes-Méditerranée (Cerpam) identified in eight departments including the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, 70 incidents. That is about thirty bites on people and 15 on walking dogs. 24 pinches were also counted.
Faced with this observation, Bertrand Selosse thinks and works to develop a site so that hikers avoid guard dogs. Accessible since July 12 on smartphones, “Pastorando” geolocates herds and therefore guard dogs. The device is in the experimental phase until the end of the summer and financed by the State.
“The map is updated regularly, we see the position of the sheep represented by large blue circles, hikers can decide to go around and take another route to avoid guard dogs“Explains Bertrand Selosse.
To do this, tracking collars were placed around the necks of two leading ewes, from each of the 13 herds grazing in the commune of Allos. The site also gives advice to apply in the event of an encounter with guard dogs.
“This app is really important to us. The particularity of the commune of Allos is that we have both pastoralism and tourists in the mountains and that we have to live together“says Maurice Laugier, president of the Alpes-Provence-Verdon community of communes (CCAPV), which supported the project.
For breeders in the commune of Allos, the use of guard dogs is almost compulsory to protect the herds from wolves. This summer there have been 8 wolf attacks in the town, mostly in recent weeks. These dogs are also essential to breeders if they want to be able to be compensated after an attack.
For Lauriane Allègre, who has her sheep in Allos, this application is also a relief: “Honestly, between our work which is already very stressful and the predation, it was stress in addition to the incidents between our dogs and the walkers“.
She remembers a few years ago having been summoned to the gendarmes following the complaint of a hiker who was pinched. ” It was not proven that it was my dog, she adds. But each time there are many steps for us: declarations to the gendarmerie, behavior tests to be carried out…” She also points to the possibility for breeders to locate their own animals so that they avoid mixing with other herds thanks to the website.
At the Allos tourist office, the feedback is also positive: ” Relations with walkers are much less tense and much more shared. They now really choose their journey based on the application and feel more secure “confirms Elisabeth Berruer, director of the Allos tourist office. And only one incident is to be deplored with guard dogs, compared to five last year
3600 users have already used the website. “ We must report at the end of the summer on the experimentation to improve the service. But we have already had a lot of requests from other municipalities and the department who are interested.” welcomes the president of the CCAPV.