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A Christmas Gift For The Farmers – Wolves No Longer Enjoy Strict Protection

The European Commission’s initiative to adapt the protection of the wolf in line with the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and their Natural Habitats is certainly a step in the right direction, but a similar measure is also needed to address the increasing population of brown bears in Europe. Member States now need to implement the measure in national legislation.

MEP Franc Bogovič (Slovenian People’s Party – SLS/European People’s Party – EPP) responded to Wednesday’s proposal for a European Commission decision on the Bern Convention, which proposes to downgrade the protection status of the wolf from “strictly protected” to “protected”. The Commission’s decision was guided by an in-depth analysis of the status of the wolf in the European Union, including data from President Ursula von der Leyen‘s September call for relevant information from the field, to which a number of local communities and farming organisations in Slovenia also responded at MEP Bogovič’s initiative. The further fate of the draft decision is in the hands of the EU Member States, and once their decision is taken, it will be discussed in the Bern Convention’s Standing Committee, and the protection of the wolf in the EU will be adapted accordingly.

This is a huge favour to farmers

“I certainly welcome the Commission’s decision to propose a reduction of wolf protection in the EU,” said MEP Bogovič, adding that it is an “early Christmas present to European and Slovenian farmers,” especially livestock and small livestock farmers, especially in areas with a high wolf population. The return of wolves and the remarkable increase in their population in the European Union is undoubtedly a great success in terms of strengthening biodiversity, but in the current situation, it represents an insurmountable obstacle for many livestock and small livestock farmers, who are already in a difficult socio-economic situation. The killing of livestock by carnivores is a material blow for the farmer, as well as a motivational and psychological one. Many farmers also despair and stop breeding. “No farmer or rancher raises or will raise domestic animals with the intention to feed them to the wolves or to compensate for damages, which are more often than not a handout,” said MEP Bogovič.

As the Commission itself notes in its analysis, the concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger, especially for livestock, as the Slovenian People’s Party MEP has been pointing out for many years. The analysis shows that the wolf population has increased over the last 20 years to 20,000 wolves over large areas, which has led to threats to livestock farmers, small livestock farmers and rural security. “I am pleased that after many years and many calls, both from farming organisations and from more sensible individuals in the European Parliament, the Commission has grasped the gravity of the situation on the ground and proposed to adjust the legal protection status of the wolf.” In MEP Bogovič’s view, it is necessary to protect the owners of domestic livestock, the affected farmer-stakeholders and their constitutional rights to make decisions about their lives and economic initiatives, as well as their rights to social security.

After the departure of the socialist Timmermans, things started to move in the right direction

MEP Bogovič also regrets that such a “catharsis” in the Commission’s services and leadership did not take place years ago, when the situation in many regions and countries was already unsustainable. “We in the European Parliament also drew attention to this in our resolution on large carnivores last November and called for an immediate change in the protection of certain large carnivores. But it was only after the departure of former European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans at the end of July that changes for the better started to happen.”

In addition, the MEP also regrets that the Commission is not proposing at the same time to reduce protection for brown bears, whose population has literally exploded in recent years in many EU countries, including Slovenia. He hopes and expects that such a proposal for a decision will be forthcoming soon and calls on EU Member States to adopt the proposed decision on reducing the protection of the wolf in the EU as soon as possible.

C. Š.

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