Less protection soon? – Carinthian Wolf visits the European Union


Not only does it cause angry farmers and political debates in Carinthia, the wolf is also a problem in Brussels, the EU headquarters. Less because the Belgian capital is plagued by the large carnivore, but more because there is discussion about how to deal with it.

It is exciting how a discussion like this takes place in the Committee of the Regions (CoR): more than 300 politicians from around 200 regions of the European Union sit in the large plenary hall, at the front of the stage – next to two huge flags: EU and Ukraine – the Portuguese lead Vasco Alves Cordeiro, president of the CoR, calls for calm during the debates and votes.

Everything is hectic, fast and sometimes it gets very loud; Photographers and camera teams rush through the rows of chairs, everyone speaks their own language, a whole group of interpreters translates the members’ contributions. And it’s about completely different things – for example child protection (we reported) or new EU member states, of course the European elections are a problem and yes, actually also the wolf.

More specifically: the protection of biodiversity and coexistence with large carnivores in Europe and the challenges and opportunities for local and regional authorities.

“I take fears very seriously”
The politicians – including those who know from their own experience what problems can be caused by wolves, such as Governor Peter Kaiser (SPÖ) or LH Markus Wallner (ÖVP) from Vorarlberg – agree that the animal helps create a healthy ecosystem that must be maintained, but that the safety of people and agriculture is the priority.

“The wolf is causing increasing damage and increasing uncertainty here and in other states and regions. I take people’s concerns and fears very seriously,” Kaiser emphasized on the sidelines of the CoR meeting, adding: “I expect the same from representatives of EU institutions and others. And I made that clear in the discussions in Brussels.”

There is a need for a reassessment and a more flexible approach to the wolf’s conservation status, Kaiser said. The population has also changed since this status was granted and the Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive came into effect. It is no secret that in recent years more and more wolves have settled and multiplied in Europe. The European Commission therefore recommends lowering the wolf’s protection status from “strictly protected”.

Of fences and conflicts
The mood in the CoR was similar: the protection status of certain species, for example that of the wolf, should be regularly reassessed. And the costs of preventing damage or compensating for damage must be fully borne by the EU. This motion, which the Austrian delegation voted for during the current meeting, was unanimously approved!

Wallner is confident this could “help prevent or reduce conflict between humans and large carnivores.” He suggests: “Measures could include, for example, providing safe fencing for animal grazing or compensating farmers for losses caused by predators. Compensations must also cover indirect economic consequences.”

Source: Krone


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