Large Carnivore Management in Europe: European Hunters’ Conference in Prague

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FACE’s European Hunters’ Conference took place on September 27th in Prague, Czech Republic, with the heads of Europe’s hunting associations and organisations converging in the capital to explore pressing and prevailing hunting issues across the continent.

Large carnivore management was the major focus at the event, with over 30 countries represented throughout the proceedings. Deputy Director General, Arno Wimpffen, was in attendance as the CIC representative to provide input as a long-time partner of FACE, and as an active participant in large carnivore matters through its Applied Science Division.

Much of the discussion at the event centred around the European Commission’s (EC) recent consultation on the management of wolf, which received comments from a wide range of stakeholders on the species’ current conservation status.

Rising populations of wolf in Europe and the associated increase in related human-wildlife conflicts have led to a review of the wolf’s strictly protected status, with the Commission inviting local communities, scientists, farmers, hunters and other stakeholders to provide input on the situation across the continent.

To facilitate this process, the CIC collected and submitted data on wolf from its Membership, providing inputs across eight countries (Hungary, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Czech Republic).

The deliberations in Prague touched on existing successful management schemes in Europe, as well as the role that hunters play in wolf management activities. Sweden, Romania, Latvia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, and Slovenia were among the countries that gave presentations throughout the event.

Increasing numbers of wolves are, however, causing a need to rethink measures that are currently in place. The need for a community led approach to management was stressed in this regard, with peaceful coexistence a priority for any potential change in legislation in Europe.

While individual EU Member states may currently deviate from protection schemes in order to safeguard their socio-economic interests, it should be noted that the EC’s current guidance document on strict protection does not fully align with recent statements from the Commission on this issue.

One such statement came from the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who suggested that “concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans.”

It is hoped that the EC consultation will provide further clarification on the best management measures for wolves in Europe, given the latest information from stakeholders.