EU: Bad News for Wolves – European Parliament Votes to Downgrade Protection of Large Carnivores.

From Eurogroup for Animals:

The European Parliament votes to downgrade protection of large carnivores

24 November 2022

On 24 November, the European Parliament adopted a Joint Motion for Resolution calling for downlisting wolves’ protection status under the Bern Convention and threatening the continuous protection of large carnivores. These statements ignore scientific evidence and best practices demonstrating that coexistence is the solution.

The vote on the Joint Motion for Resolution on the protection of livestock farming and large carnivores in Europe took place on 24 November. The Resolution has been adopted with highly concerning amendments, calling for the conservation status of wolves under the Bern Convention to be downlisted and mentioning that flexibilities under the Habitats Directive should be explored further. We note that the Resolution does not call the European Commission to downgrade the protection status of wolves under the Habitats Directive from strict protection in Annex IV to protected in Annex V. However, it calls on the Commission to assess populations so that their protection status in particular regions can be adapted as soon as they reach a favourable conservation status. 

These calls, if implemented, would put wolves, large carnivores and other vulnerable species in the EU at high risk. Indeed, these statements ignore the threats on the survival of these species even when their populations increase to satisfactory levels. Downgrading protection of large carnivores has only one objective: generalise culling. However, we know it does not work! Reduction of livestock depredation has been successful thanks to preventive measures such as fencing and guarding dogs, not by killing emblematic species vital to healthy ecosystems. In addition, six out of nine wolf populations in Europe are still vulnerable or near threatened, favourable conservation status has not been reached in six out of 7 EU biogeographical regions.

We ask the European Commission not to implement the problematic measures suggested by the Resolution, and to continue protecting wild animals, including large carnivores, listed under the Habitats Directive for strict protection by promoting coexistence, the only viable solution. This is in line with the results of the European Commission Fitness Check evaluation of the Birds and Habitats Directives that concluded both Directives are sufficient and fit for purpose to achieve the objectives. We also welcome the calls of the Resolution to strengthen funding for preventive measures.

and yesterday …………………………….

Joint Motion for Resolution on wolves and large carnivores will be voted by the European Parliament this Thursday 24 November in the November Plenary session in Strasbourg

23 November 2022

This resulted from campaigns seeking to downgrade legal protection for wolves and large carnivores, and use culling as a strategy to prevent livestock depredation.

The Habitats Directive provides for the strict protection of large carnivores including wolves and provides sufficient flexibility. The European Commission reiterated that the Directive is fit for purpose. Efforts led by the EU and Member States to protect wolf populations are successful and led to an increase in the number of individuals. This is a positive trend since wolves are essential species in keeping their ecosystems healthy and play a key role in maintaining biodiversity in the EU. This conservation success on some populations should be celebrated as an encouraging sign of recovery. Importantly, wolves must still face a number of threats and still need to be protected. Hundreds of wolves are currently killed each year in the EU although some populations are considered as vulnerable and nearly threatened. 

As the European Commission clarified several times, the strategy for wolves and large carnivores management should focus on coexistence measures. Mitigation strategies have proven to be more effective to protect biodiversity, livestock and farmers. For instance, in France and Sweden, the number of attacks is decreasing despite the increasing number of wolves, partly thanks to fencing and other preventive measures. Besides an improved access to such measures such as fencing and guarding dogs, appropriate compensation schemes should be in place across the EU in a view to achieve coexistence. 

We therefore call on MEPs to ensure that the Joint Motion for Resolution does not undermine the conservation and protection of large carnivores, including wolves.

For more information, read our joint letter co-signed by the Humane Society International/Europe, Birdlife, IFAW, the European Environmental Bureau, WWF and ProWidlife and Eurogroup for Animals.

 Regards Mark

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