The EU is to accept the new wolf management plan of Castilla-Leon when it is approved in January 2007 which will allow wolves to hunted south of the River Duero to protect livestock, breaking a 20-year protection of the species in this area.
Two wolves killed illegally in Valladolid in 2006. (El Pais) The police seem to have enjoyed their display.
According to wolf expert Juan Carlos Blanco, wolves expanded significantly in the 1990s but this expansion, reaching the border of the region of Madrid, has halted. In the last decade the density of wolves in the area of distribution has probably increased. “This is a typical behaviour: first a big territorial expansion and then a brake to this”.
Some 200 wolves are hunted legally every year in Spain, and many more illegally, not just in Castilla-Leon but also in Asturias where 25 wolves were killed between January 2006 and March 2007, by officials after reports of sheep deaths. In contrast, in the Sierra de la Culebra, rich hunters pay up to 18,000 euros to kill a wolf.
Ecologistas en Acción is against the removal of protection. “…there is no justification. Five years ago the Spanish parliament voted to include the wolf in the National Catalogue of threatened species and not only has this not been done, but they now want to extend its hunting. Legal hunting does not replace poaching and the use of poison, it complements it”.
Wolf attacks on livestock have increased but this may not be only be due to its breeding success. The absence of carrion after the EU mad-cow ban on leaving dead livestock in the countryside has had a huge affect on wildlife on Spain and has in all surety driven wolves to attack sheep more frequently. The Junta de Castilla y Leon claim the region’s 1500 wolves kill 2,200 sheep and 220 cows a year. They claim the plan guarantees the conservation of the wolf and reduces its negative effects. The actual contents of the plan are still unclear, but sources talk of some 50 wolves a year.