EU plans to lift ban on wolf hunting

by Hugues Thiebault

Wolf, seen from a certain distance
Pic courtesy of Mountain Wilderness Italia

On December 20, 2023, the European Commission tabled a proposal for a Council Decision aimed at downgrading the wolf’s status. This large carnivore is currently classified as a “strictly protected species” under the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.

The EU Commission proposed that the wolf should now be classified as a “protected” rather than “strictly protected” species. The proposal follows the resolution on wolves and large carnivores voted by the European Parliament on November 24, 2022.

The return of the wolf to regions of the European Union where it had been absent for a long time and the increase in its populations in new areas has led to conflicts with farmers and hunters, who have mobilised in many countries, to try to eradicate the wolf.

Farmers have turned the wolf into the scapegoat for all the difficulties they face in the livestock sector, especially in sheep farming. It is accused of destroying domestic livestock, even when predation is minimal, or when attacks are carried out by domestic dogs.

Wolf, close up view.
Pic courtesy of Mountain Wilderness Italia

Hunters, for their part, see the wolf as a competitor stealing their prey, even though the number of these carnivores is infinitely smaller than that of hunters.

With the European Commission’s proposal, it will be easier to change national legislation in the direction desired by wolf opponents, paving the way for a return to indiscriminate hunting of this emblematic animal of wild areas.

Coexistence between humans and large carnivores is not only desirable but also possible. Mountain Wilderness strongly opposes these developments and calls on the Member States of the European Union to refuse to turn wolves into a target for Sunday hunters, by rejecting the European Commission’s proposal.