The French wolf saga continues, with the European Commission being involved. I have been following this story since July (SOME BAD NEWS FOR FRENCH WOLVES & THINGS GET WORSE FOR THE FRENCH WOLF) and I find it concerning. There are obviously going to be problems with livestock loss when predators are in the area, but the solution is not kill the predators it is to find a safe equilibrium and better livestock management. We can not just 'kill off' anything that makes our lives 'less easy' (I use this and not difficult). They were here first, not us. We destroyed their population and they managed to hang on and come back. We should be enabling them to survive by conserving their habitats and enabling nature to do what it does best. We need to conserve biodiversity.
The story so far:
- Shepherds complain about wolves killing livestock. In context, French livestock farming does not suffer from predation by a few hundred animals by wolves, but an intensive economic system out of breath.
- A decree by the French government in early July states the maximum number of wolves that can be killed is set at 36 for this period, against 24 the previous season (with a possibility of an additional 12 wolves). Bear in mind this is getting close to 20% of their population!
- Increased number of people who will be authorised to hunt wolves without supervision.
- And most concerning, the area in which wolfs can be hunted is increasing, including in the heart of national parks.
- The French government is asking for the wolf's status to be downgraded from a species strictly protected, in accordance with the Berne Convention and the European Union.
This is a translation from the LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux) website regarding this matter:
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, the French government met the European Commission to obtain the withdrawal of strictly protected species status for the wolf. A similar approach will be undertaken with the Council of Europe. FNE and LPO deplore these purely politicking approaches that will not change anything on the ground.
These actions against the wolf are useless, demagogic, inefficient and suggest to farmers that the situation on the ground would be radically changed. Explanations.
Useless. Our organizations recall first that the law already allows derogations to the protection and kill wolves in France. The state uses this possibility for several years now, with annual caps constantly growing, and now carried by hunters shooting.
Demagogic. The French government's approach has no chance of succeeding given the concrete conditions of amendments to the Habitats Directive or the Berne Convention. The government pretends to act while also exempting more courageous and appropriate decisions to the situation.
Ineffective. Without setting up wide and effective herd protection measures, regulation of wolf populations will change only little in terms of damage to livestock. Unprotected herds suffer attacks again and again, more so when the packs are disorganized. Furthermore, this regulation will not solve the structural problems in the sheep sector. It is these problems that France must provide solutions, while also even with a downgrade of the case she would always held to the obligation to ensure its good state of preservation in our territory.
Faced with this, our associations remind the Government that, as part of the consultation launched by the European Commission to whether or not it is necessary to review the Habitats Directive, which protects biodiversity including wolves. A large majority of European citizens felt that this effective regulation makes it possible to reconcile the preservation of habitats, wildlife and wild flora with economic, social and cultural interests.
One is entitled to wonder what happened to the commitments of the President of the Republic who has announced plans to make France an exemplary country in terms of biodiversity, even though this bill on biodiversity is under consideration . Instead of these sterile maneuvers, FNE and LPO asking the government to put in place the necessary means and dialogue in search of conditions for a sustainable coexistence, defined with all actors involved.
A full press release by the LPO is available (in French).