Yesterday EU Commissioner Mr. Vella met with about 80 EU, national and regional parliamentarians in Brussels. In this inter-parliamentary conference, they discussed the protection status of the wolf in Europe. It focussed on concerns of farmers, foresters, hunters and politicians regarding wolf predation, and ways for better management. Currently, the wolf is under strict environmental protection. There are exceptions only under very specific conditions. This includes a situation that threatens human or animal safety, and when we have implemented all other forms of protection that do not result in killing of wolves. The current situation in Salzburg was used as an argument to change the protection status of the wolf. Opposition wants to see a wolf-free alpine zone and unbureaucratic ways that allow killing of wolves.
Please also read: Should we manage wolf populations?
Over the past weeks, what is most-likely a wandering young wolf attacked various sheep and goats in the Pongau. As the DNA analysis is still pending, officials yet have to confirm the expectations that we are dealing with a wolf. However, a group of farmers, foresters, hunters and politicians demand legal ‘management’. Ideally, they want to control the wolf population by killing wolves.
However, there is no proper protection programme in place in the Salzburg region at this moment. Furthermore, a financial subsidy system to support farmers who want to protect their livestock is insufficient. In fact, the effort that is made to find a sustainable solution for coexistence is minimal. And this goes for many regions in Europe. Any effort that is made to properly do herd management is initiated and supported by local farmers and private initiatives such as WWF, the Naturschutz Bund and European Wilderness Society. Frustrated farmers want to protect their animals, but currently do not receive the proper support. As a result, many conclude that killing the wolf is the only solution.
Herd management is the key
EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella concluded after the discussions that the European Parliament will not consider to change the protection status of the wolf. Lifting the protection would endanger the natural heritage in Europe, says Commissioner Vella, and humans and wolves should coexist. After all, we know that killing wolves is less effecting than proper herd management. Commissional Vella confirmed that proper herd management measures are the key solution to the challenges we currently face in Europe. This includes electric fences, up to date herd management, training of farmers and even compensation systems. The EU Commission is ready to financially support this process, however Commissioner Vella also made clear that every country is responsible. Each country must provide appropriate measures at regional level. This includes four basic steps to solve wildlife conflict.