Wolves and Humans: a possible coexistence

Wolves are legally protected species in the European Union by the EU Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) and by the Bern Convention.

The implementation of these pan-European nature conservation instruments has brought this species back from the brink of extinction in certain areas of Europe, allowing for their slow recovery.

In highly populated continents like Europe, the coexistence with large carnivores can cause conflicts with human’s socio-economic interests. In recent years there have been increasing calls in some Member States to allow more flexibility in using derogations to the EU Habitats Directive to manage conflicts with large carnivores and particularly with wolves. The risk is that this will result in higher hunting quotas, more lethal management of conflicts and decreased protection of this species under the Habitats Directive. Hunter and farmer lobby groups, as well as their political representatives are consistently urging the European Commission to move the wolf from Annex IV (strictly protected species) to Annex V (protected species) of the Habitats Directive, and similar attempts have been made through recently adopted EP Resolutions and under the Bern Convention. 

Yet, coexistence with large carnivores is possible, as demonstrated by more than 80 projects funded through the European Commission LIFE programme since 1992.  

Given the growing and vocal pressure made by several Member States to downscale the protection of the wolf, we propose that Eurogroup for Animals’ members join forces to show decision makers that farmers and hunters don’t represent all EU citizens, and the majority of people want to keep the present level of protection. The coordinated action would aim at providing a positive image of the wolf, and at increasing its social acceptability. We will call on the European Commission to commit to keeping the present level of protection for wolves and on promoting coexistence and non-lethal solutions to conflicts.