The prayers of the rural world to lower the legal protection of the wolf in the European Union have been heard. The increase in attacks on livestock has led the European Commission, so far opposed to any change, to open the door to a reduction in the requirements for the protection 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 depth that the conflict had taken and 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 human beings," Von der Leyen admitted yesterday. “I urge local and national authorities to take action where necessary. In fact, the current legislation of the EU already allows them", he emphasized in a statement in which the popular German expresses its readiness to review the legal framework and guarantee more flexibility to the authorities when acting and granting , when deemed necessary, hunting permits.
Von der Leyen herself became a year ago the involuntary protagonist of a controversy that illustrates the pulse that is being released from 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 in the idyllic town of Burgdorf-Beinhorn (north-west Germany) at night and ended the life of a pony. The animal, whose name was Dolly, was 30 years old and was the favorite pet of the former German minister, who had often appeared in photographs with the animal. They found his body the next morning. "The whole family is extremely dismayed by the news", said Von der Leyen at the time.
The case reached the courts and what could have remained a sad event became a convenient example, for detractors of the current regulations, of the problems that is creating in some parts of Europe the increase of wolf populations. The predator that ended Dolly's life was identified (GW950m) and it was not the first time he attacked animals in the area (a dozen deaths of cattle were attributed to him) so, after several visits and came, a Hanover court authorized the execution. It is not clear who requested the drastic measure (Von der Leyen's spokesman said it was not her), but earlier this year, ignoring the protests of the Society for the Protection of Wolves, the judge give the hunters a week to act. The specimen in question, however, managed to escape and it is not clear whether it is alive 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 conflicts with ranchers and hunters that have arisen over the animal's return to different European regions where he has been absent for years. While the courts debated the fate of the wolf that took Dolly's life, the political scope of the debate grew. In November, a coalition of conservative groups succeeded in passing a resolution in the European Parliament to ask the Community executive for changes in the level of protection for both the wolf and the bear to ensure "a balanced coexistence between people, livestock and the big carnivores". In response, the governments of a dozen countries - including Spain - asked Brussels in a letter not to give in. The wolf, they argue, 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 year, 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 wolves. Local communities, scientists and other interested parties have until September 22 to send information to Brussels about the animal's current population as well as the unwanted effects of the population increase. Conservation groups estimate that there are 19,000 specimens in Europe, 25% more than ten years ago.