Europe Enters “New Phase” In Review of Wolf Conservation Status

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The European Commission has launched a “new phase” in its work to address rising numbers of wolves across the continent and will be collecting data for a review of the species’ conservation status.

Earlier this week, the President of the European Commission announced they will be inviting local communities, scientists, farmers, hunters and other stakeholders to give input on the topic of wolves across Europe.

As part of the announcement, President Ursula von der Leyen stated that the “concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans.”

The news comes within a wider discussion on wolf in a human-wildlife conflict context, with farmers in particular growing increasingly concerned about wolf-induced livestock damages and its impact on their livelihoods.

The wolf is currently classified as strictly protected under the Habitats Directive, with derogations allowed only under specific circumstances, such as threat to livestock or human well-being.

While individual EU Member states may – under certain conditions – deviate from protection schemes in order to safeguard their socio-economic interests, a review is being conducted in light of the ever-changing situation surrounding wolves, with the species reappearing in new regions on an ongoing basis.

While many rural stakeholders would welcome change in this regard, others have also argued that the wolf remains threatened and that any review of status should be done with the long-term health of the species in mind.

This “new phase” comes as part of a wider analysis – launched through a resolution put forward last year – on the protection of livestock farming and large carnivores in Europe.

As a next step, it is vital that the data collection process is carried out holistically and with input from a wide range of stakeholders involved in this issue.

Any review of a species’ conservation status should be conducted with a focus on species and wider ecosystem health, with particular attention given to the well-being of people coexisting with wolves and dealing with its realities on a daily basis.