Breaking news: European court upholds strong protections for wolves

Wolf populations were wiped out in parts of Europe because of
indiscriminate hunting, and it is only recently that they have
begun to rebound. Photo by Jamcgraw/iStock.com

Europe’s highest court has ruled that wolves in the European
Union cannot be hunted, except in the rarest cases where member
countries can prove there is no other option to end human-wolf
conflict.

The European Court of Justice ruling followed a challenge to a
decision by the Finland government to allow two hunters to kill
seven wolves in early 2016. The challenge was brought by a local
nature organization. Wolves are critically endangered and protected
in Europe under the EU Habitats Directive, which requires EU
countries to strictly protect the species, with deviations allowed
only if certain tests are met.

Wolf populations were wiped out in parts of Europe because of
indiscriminate hunting, making such protections necessary, and it
is only recently that they have begun to rebound. Allowing hunting
interests to get a foot in at this crucial time would set the clock
back once again for these beautiful carnivores, threatening their
survival.

HSI/Europe has been working to promote coexistence with wolves
and other large carnivores in Europe and to counter calls to change
EU legislation to allow more wolves to be culled. Among other
initiatives, in 2017, we organized a symposium at the European
Parliament on the issue of coexistence with large carnivores.

In its ruling, the court stated that EU member states seeking
any exemptions would have to prove, using rigorous scientific data,
that the killing would solve the problem it is supposed to address
and would have a net positive effect on conservation of wolves;
guarantee that killing the wolves would not harm the conservation
status of wolves; and any killing would need to be limited to a
specific number of individuals, under strict monitoring.

The ruling also sets an important precedent for other carnivores
protected under the Habitats Directive, like bears and lynx, who
are also in trophy hunters’ sights and face threats similar to
those faced by wolves.

The high bar Europe has set for protecting its wolves is in
sharp contrast to how the U.S. government is handling wolf recovery
on its shores. Here, despite the fragile state of wolf populations
in several U.S. states, the Trump administration has
proposed removing Endangered Species Act protections
for these
animals in the lower 48 states, putting them directly in the
crosshairs of trophy hunters. Some states, including Idaho and
Wyoming, have also persistently mounted attacks on their own wolf
populations.

We hope that our government will take note of this humane and
progressive path chosen by their European counterparts. Native
carnivores around the world face unprecedented threats to their
survival today, following decades of trophy hunting, poaching and
habitat loss, and continuing to do more of the same will only lead
to some of our most precious wildlife being lost forever. We
applaud the European Court of Justice for standing on the right
side of this issue.

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Breaking news: European court upholds strong protections for
wolves
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Source: FS – Pets – A Humane Nation
Breaking news: European court upholds strong protections for wolves