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Von der Leyen declares war on the wolf … again

Von der Leyen declares war on the wolf … again

by host

Ursula von der Leyen is on the wolf hunt again.

After her beloved pony was killed by a wolf in Germany last year, the European Commission president called for a reevaluation of the strict protection rules for wolves across the Continent.

Now, Brussels is entering “a new phase” in its work to tackle the return of wolves and is asking “local communities, scientists and all interested parties” for data on the animal’s impact, von der Leyen announced Monday.

The Commission will use the data to decide whether to propose modifying the status of protection of the wolf within the EU “where appropriate” and “to update the legal framework, to introduce, where necessary, further flexibility.”

Von der Leyen also urged “local and national authorities to take action where necessary,” warning that “the concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans.”

Wolves are a strictly protected species under the EU Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, meaning their capturing and killing are prohibited. But certain exemptions apply, notably when wolves pose a danger to humans or livestock.

Hunting and farming associations have long called on Brussels to review the wolf’s protection status to allow them to kill more of the animals, arguing that farmers are “under enormous pressure” to protect their livestock.

Von der Leyen’s own right-wing political family, the European People’s Party, has also sounded the alarm about a growing number of wolf attacks as it seeks to position itself as a defender of farming and rural communities ahead of next year’s European election.

EU environment ministers, meanwhile, want the Commission to safeguard the wolf’s protection status. Environmental protection groups have also pushed back against the EPP’s arguments, pointing out that wolves remain a threatened species and that lowering their protection status would jeopardize its long-term recovery.

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