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Wolves once more in the firing line

Oct 20, 2016
Downgrading the protected status of the wolf, control, even wolf-free zones: these are some of the demands of the Alpine farming federations in the Alpine regions as part of the fitness check conducted on the Fauna Flora Habitat (FFH) directive. Nature conservation organisations respond.
Image caption:
The political resistance to the wolf is growing at the European level. To what extent will people allow wolves to occupy their natural habitat in future? © Chad Horwedel/flickr

After an absence of many decades from the Alps, the wolf is slowly reconquering its natural habitat. This has been made possible because, following their previous extermination, wolves are today under the protection of international agreements such as the FFH directive and the Berne convention. This return has resulted in conflict as people have forgotten how to live with the wolf. Untended grazing for sheep, goats and cattle on open pastures has become generally accepted, making them an easy source of food for wolves. Alpine farming federations in the region thus wish to see a downgrading in the protected status of these large predators.
Of all the farm animals that die in summer, only five percent can be blamed on the wolf. The remainder die because of bad weather, sickness or falls in rough terrain. In a letter to the permanent secretariat of Alpine Convention, nature conservation bodies refer to the small amount of damage caused by wolves. They however recognise the increasingly difficult economic situation of mountain farms and therefore demand support for protective herding.
Politicians at the national level are singing the same tune as the farming federations, as for example recently in Switzerland. A motion to the Federal Council demanded an analysis of a possible exit from the Berne convention. This analysis was not carried out, but a “wolf concept” was developed in order to permit the co-existence of wolves with farming. Now the motion has again been tabled and the debate continues.

Sources and further information: (de, fr, it, sl)
(de, fr, it, sl)