Portugal joins 11 other Member States to defend the protection of wolves in Europe
The Ministers of the Environment area of 12 Member States of the European Union sent a letter this week to the European Commission asking them to maintain the protection status of the wolf (canis lupus) in Europe.
In the missive, addressed to the European commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, the government officials, attended by the Slovak minister Ján Budaj, consider that “it would be a mistake to weaken the legal protection of the wolf”, a species that, for example, acts as a “natural barrier” against various diseases and as a natural control of wild animals.
In addition to Slovakia, the group includes Portugal, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.
The appeal made to Brussels came after the European Parliament, on 24 November last, adopted a resolution in which he defends the “mitigation of the protection status” of the wolf, arguing that its conservation status at European level “justifies” this reduction in the level of legal protection.
In that same resolution, it is said that “the population of wolves [na Europa] has the potential to increase exponentially by approximately 30% every year” and that “the negative impact of attacks on livestock due to the growth of the wolf population is increasing”, he pointed out the example of Austria, where the number of attacks by these carnivores to livestock increased by 230% in 2021. For 2020, it is estimated that there were more than 11,000 wolf attacks on livestock in France and almost 4,000 in Germany.
However, the Environment Minister of Slovakia, on behalf of the remaining 11 Member States, urges the European Commission to maintain “the status quo of protecting wolves” and not to react “to random incidents”.
“I firmly believe that the European Commission will maintain the professional and responsible approach to the protection of rare species that they have taken so far,” said Ján Budaj, in a statementarguing that the right path is not to unprotect the wolf, but to implement “tools that compensate for the damage caused to production animals in Slovakia and in other EU countries”.
According to data from the European Commission, wolves are the second most abundant large carnivore species in Europe, after brown bears (Ursus arctos), with a population estimated at between 13,000 and 14,000 individuals in the European Union (about 17,000 in Europe as a whole).
The Iberian wolf (canis lupus signatus) is a subspecies of canis lupus and in 1988 he was awarded legal protection in Portugalwith the status of a protected species, which prohibits “its slaughter or capture throughout the national territory, at any time of the year”, except “for the protection of flora and fauna”, in accordance with Article 9 of the Berne Convention for the Conservation of Wildlife and Natural Habitats in Europewhich dates back to 1979.