Switzerland tightens hunting tourism for ibex

The only canton where foreigners can stalk ibex has bowed to pressure from animal rights activists. The Valais, a canton in South-West Switzerland, is to make it harder for foreigners to hunt ibex from 2021. 

Every hunter who wants to hunt for ibex, whether foreigner or Swiss, must pass the cantonal hunting examination. In addition, the hunter must obtain at least five hunting licenses for the regular big game hunt for deer, chamois and roe deer. Only when you have qualified are you allowed to apply for an ibex license. In the canton of Graubünden, for example, you get such a license about every 10 years, which then allows you to hunt without a guide for one male and one female ibex.

Foreigners also pay a trophy fee based on the length of the ibex’s horns. The longest specimens, measuring around 110cm cost up to US$20,000 for a pair.

“This hunt will not be impossible for foreigners in the future, but in addition to the financial effort, one will have to invest a lot of time,” says Mario Theus, a Swiss hunter who made this film about ibex hunting in Graubünden:


Ibex is a popular quarry species hunted across Switzerland. Until now, only the Valais offered hunts to foreigners without a cantonal exam.

Antis whipped up feeling against foreign hunters with a xenophobic documentary on Swiss national television in 2019. This sparked a petition against hunting.

The ibex population in Switzerland is growing healthily. It had been wiped out by the end of the 19th century. Swiss hunters reintroduced the species from neighboring Italy, and the population in the country has grown to around 17,000, paid for in part by hunting permits.

The population of ibex in the Valais has nearly doubled in the last 15 years to more than 6,000 animals. The cull quota this year stands at 544 animals, 25 of them to foreigners.

Expecting fewer foreigners to come, the Valais government confirms it will absorb the financial loss and has no plans in the short term to hike prices for local hunters.

Ibex hunting across the rest of Europe remains open, with hunts available in Spain, Austria, Italy and France.


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