A young wolf in the Wisentgehege Springe nature park, Germany.picture alliance (dpa/picture alliance via Getty I)
The European Commission is going to review the protection status of the wolf in Europe, in view of the “real danger” that the concentration of this animal constitutes in some regions of the continent, and is considering “making more flexible” the conditions under which these animals can be dejected To make an informed decision, Brussels has decided to expand a consultation launched in April and has invited “local communities, scientists and all interested parties” to send updated data on the wolf population “and its impact” by September 22 .
“The concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and, potentially, also for humans,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announcing the launch of the new query.
As explained by the European Executive in a statement, with the data that is collected until the end of this month, Brussels “will decide on a proposal to modify, where appropriate, the protection status of the wolf within the EU.” The consultation, which seeks to find out the number of populations, as well as their “impact” on the communities, will also serve to “update the legal framework and introduce, where necessary, greater flexibility in view of the evolution of this species”.
The Habitats Directive, which seeks to guarantee the conservation of a wide range of rare animal and plant species, obliges the Twenty-seven to establish a “strict protection system” for them that prohibits “the deliberate killing, capture or disturbance of species in nature, as well as the deterioration or destruction of their reproduction or resting places.” However, “exceptions” to this strict protection are allowed “under certain conditions” and always “as a last resort.” Among the planned assumptions that allow repealing the protection of wolves and other large carnivores in Europe, “the protection of socioeconomic interests” is included.
The new initiative does not necessarily imply an automatic reduction of the current strong protections for the wolf, but everything indicates that this is the path in which it is intended to go.
“We cannot advance what is decided with the review, for this we are asking for more data and based on that we will decide what to do,” said a spokesman for the Commission responsible for the environment, Adalbert Jahnz, this Monday. However, he has acknowledged that the current legal framework provides “very strict” protection and that the idea is to analyze “flexibility” that goes in the “direction of what local communities are demanding.”
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As the Commission now acknowledges, the return of the wolf to EU regions where it was long absent “is increasingly causing conflicts with local farming and hunting communities, especially where measures to prevent attacks on livestock “They are not implemented sufficiently.”
Von der Leyen herself has urged local and national authorities to “act where necessary” and has recalled in this regard that current legislation “already allows them to do so.”
The German knows first-hand the “danger” that wolves can pose: in September last year, one of these protected animals killed her favorite pony, Dolly, in an attack near her residence in Lower Saxony. According to the German tabloid newspaper Bild, the animal’s corpse was found by the husband of the former German Defense Minister, Heiko von der Leyen. The family declared themselves very “disturbed” by the death of the animal attacked by a wolf that also claimed the lives of a dozen sheep and a cow. Shortly before Dolly’s death, three more ponies were killed by other wolves in the same region, local press reported.
According to Euractiv, the head of the European Executive then sent a letter to her political family, the European People’s Party (EPP), which calls for making the conservation rules for this animal more flexible, announcing that she had asked the Commission services for an “analysis in depth” about the endangered animal status of the wolf. The Commission began collecting data from expert groups and key actors in April, but considers that the information obtained “still does not provide a sufficient picture to design further actions”, hence the consultation has now been “expanded”.
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