Brussels sees the wolf's ears

Brussels sees the wolf's ears
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The rural world's prayers to lower the legal protection of wolves in the European Union have been heard. The increase in attacks on livestock has led the European Commission, until now opposed to any change, to open the door to a reduction in the protection requirements of the carnivore, a species strictly protected by the habitats directive. The fact that it was the president herself, Ursula von der Leyen, who made the announcement gives an idea of ​​the political significance that the conflict had taken on and of her interest, less than a year before the European elections, in putting out this fire.

“The concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans,” Von der Leyen admitted yesterday. “I urge local and national authorities to take action where necessary. In fact, current EU legislation already allows them to do so,” he stressed in a statement in which the popular Germany expresses its willingness to review the legal framework and guarantee greater flexibility to the authorities when acting and granting, when considered necessary, hunting permits.

Von der Leyen is the involuntary protagonist of the debate: her beloved pony, Dolly, 30, was eaten by a wolf

A year ago, Von der Leyen herself became the involuntary protagonist of a controversy that illustrates the fight that is being waged in the rural world against part of the green agenda promoted by the community executive during the current legislature. It happened on September 1 when a wolf entered a farm at night in the idyllic town of Burgdorf-Beinhorn (northwest Germany) and ended the life of a pony. The animal, named Dolly, was 30 years old and was the favorite pet of the former German minister, who had posed in photographs with the animal on numerous occasions. They found her body the next morning. “The whole family is extremely shocked by the news,” Von der Leyen commented on her day.

The case went to court and what could have remained a sad event became a convenient example, for detractors of the current regulations, of the problems that the increase in wolf populations is creating in some parts of Europe. The predator that killed Dolly was identified (GW950m) and it was not the first time it attacked animals in the area (a dozen cattle deaths were attributed to it) so, after several comings and goings , a court in Hannover authorized his execution. It is not clear who requested the drastic measure (Von der Leyen's spokesperson said it was not her), but at the beginning of the year, ignoring the protests of the Society for the Protection of Wolves, the judge gave a week's time to the hunters to act. The specimen in question, however, managed to escape and it is not clear if it lives or not.

Von der Leyen's own political family, both the German CDU and the European People's Party, have declared themselves in favor of a relaxation of the regulations in response to the conflicts with ranchers and hunters that have arisen due to the return of the animal to different regions. European countries where it has been absent for years. As the courts debated the fate of the wolf that killed Dolly, the political scope of the debate grew. In November, a coalition of conservative groups managed to pass a resolution in the European Parliament to ask the community executive to change the level of protection for both wolves and bears to guarantee “a balanced coexistence between people, livestock and large carnivores.” . In response, the governments of a dozen countries – including Spain – asked Brussels by letter not to give in. The wolf, they defend, still needs protection and plays “an indispensable role in regulating the abundance of game populations.”

Von der Leyen seems to have seen the wolf's ears. With the beginning of the political course, he has decided to face the conflict and has decreed the beginning of “a new phase” in his work to respond to the challenges posed by the return of the wolves. Local communities, scientists and other interested parties have until September 22 to send Brussels information on the animal's current population as well as any undesirable effects of population growth. Conservation groups estimate that there are 19,000 specimens in Europe, 25% more than ten years ago.

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