New poll shows EU citizens stand up for wolves
READ THE EU OPINION POLL
Conducted by Savanta ComRes in six EU member states - France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Finland - the survey aimed to better understand public perceptions and attitudes towards wolf protection across Europe.
- The 6,137 EU citizens who responded showed overall a high level of support for wolf protection, particularly in Poland, Spain and Italy, and a great level of awareness of the benefits of wolves to their local ecosystem. The majority of adults say that the killing of wolves is rarely or never acceptable in any tested circumstances, even when they have attacked farm animals (55%), or to control their population size (55%).
- While the hunters’ community and some Member States have been calling for more flexibility in managing their wolf populations, the surveyed EU’s citizens disagree. Instead, 86% of respondents across the six surveyed countries agree that national governments and the EU should fund and equip farmers with the tools to protect farm animals from wolf attacks. 93% of adults agree that wolves have a right to exist in the wild. Similarly, 89% agree that wolves belong to our natural environment just like foxes, deer or hares, and 86% agree that wolves should be accepted to live in their respective countries.
- At least three quarters of interviewed adults agree that farmers and people living in rural areas should coexist with wolves and other wild animals without harming them (78%). While 38% think that wolves pose a risk to people, only 39% say they would know how to behave if they were to encounter a wolf - so it’s clear that more needs to be done to educate today’s citizens about how to live alongside wolves again.
- “This research unequivocally demonstrates that European citizens strongly support protection for wolves, and oppose their killing in any circumstances,” says Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals. “We hope EU institutions and Member States’ politicians will now work together to ensure that current protection levels are maintained while national and EU funding are made available to develop and provide farmers with innovative tools to protect farm animals from wolf attack and increase tolerance and social acceptability. In fact, the recently published EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 calls on Member States to commit to not deteriorate the conservation of protected species, like the wolf.”
The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, drafted as part of the EU Green Deal, also requests Member States to ensure that at least 30% of species and habitats not currently in favourable status are in that category or show a strong positive trend. Given the high public support for the conservation of wolves, Eurogroup for Animals encourages countries where the species is increasingly persecuted, like Finland, France and Germany, to listen to the opinion of their citizens and prioritise efforts to protect the species and prevent conflict with large carnivores like wolves and bears, as well increasing awareness on how to coexist with them peacefully and without risk.
Finally, we hope that the upcoming publication of the updated European Commission’s Guidance document on the strict protection of animal species of Community interest will provide more clarity to those Member States that are inappropriately using derogations to the EU Habitats Directive to lethally manage populations of wolves and other protected species.
Ilaria Di Silvestre, Wildlife Programme Leader
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