Member States should protect their wolves, says the European Court of Justice
The Court of Justice of the European Union has confirmed the strict protection of the wolf in Europe, saying that hunting permits should be delivered only in exceptional cases, and as a very last resort after non-lethal measures have been adequately implemented and have failed.
This good news for the species came last week when the EU Court of Justice (EUJC) delivered its decision on the permits granted by the Finnish Wildlife Agency to kill wolves – a seriously endangered species in Finland, with only around 200 individuals left – to prevent poaching and harm to hunting dogs.
The decision stresses that the wolf is a strictly protected species, and that the provisions of the EU Habitats Directive must be interpreted in light of the precautionary principle in Article 191(2) TFEU. In other words, if there is any risk (due to a lack of scientific data) that a hunting permit will adversely affect the conservation of the wider wolf population, then it should not be granted.
“The EUCJ decision is great news for wolves, and provides clear guidance on how derogations according to the Habitats Directive should be delivered. Member States’ efforts should focus on preventing conflicts and ensuring coexistence with the wolf and other strictly protected species, instead of calling for hunting permits,” says Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals. “We call on the European Commission to take into consideration these important EUCJ conclusions when updating the guidance document on the strict protection of Animal Species of Community Interest under the Habitats Directive.”