EU to accept wolf hunting

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.

El Pais

7 Responses to “EU to accept wolf hunting”

  1. […] early February. South of the Duero, wolf hunting is currently banned, but the EU has recently given its approval to change the law. Valladolid wolf […]

  2. nick says:

    Thanks Lisa


  3. Lisa Stuart says:

    It’s hard, if not impossible, to give exact figures given the wolf’s itinerant nature but there are, at the most, five different small packs that have been identified in Cantabria, mostly roaming in and out from Castilla y León. They’ve been hounded (sorry) in this province since time immemorial. There was huge opposition to the recent expansion of the Picos de Europa National Park precisely because of wolves, the locals believing the area would become over-run with them. Of course this hasn’t happened but even in the Park their numbers are controlled.

  4. nick says:

    How many wolves are there in Cantabria? With that kind of pressure it’s a wonder there are any left! Are they protected anywhere in the region*?

    *Cantabria I mean

  5. Lisa Stuart says:

    Yes, in the mountainous north of Spain there are only small flocks of sheep so if one or two are lost to wolves it’s a big deal for the farmer whereas on the plains large flocks are kept. If adequate protection was used in Castilla y León such as dogs guarding during the day, the animals being brought inside barns for the night and prompt and proper compensation paid for any losses then the wolf could live compatibly with man. Then there’s the other question of the over-hunting of the wolf’s natural food source….
    There is a quota of wolves allowed to be shot by hunters of boar and deer in Cantabria – one per hunt.

  6. nick says:

    Totally agree Lisa. I think there are probably areas of Asturias and Cantabria where wolves and sheep farming are just not compatible (don’t know if you agree). At least in Asturias, wolves are killed by forest rangers not by hunters out to enjoy themselves. (aren’t FAPAS involved in this is the Sierra de Cuera?)

    But this is not the case of much of Castilla-Leon, where sheep are in large flocks and were protected traditionally by a shepherd and mastiffs. In such areas, with money and will, it is not impractical to protect sheep from wolves.

  7. Lisa Stuart says:

    A better option for protecting livestock and, at the same time, the balance of nature would be to use livestock guardian dogs – but that would reduce the “need” for hunting “the big bad wolf”…

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