Environmentalist organisations have asked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to drop her apparent targeting of the continent’s wolf population.
Brussels announced a review of protections for wolves after von der Leyen’s prized pony Dolly was mauled to death by one, with the EC so far seeming to lean towards loosening rules on the use of lethal force against them.
In an open letter sent to von der Leyen, a number of environmentalist groups have asked her to not move ahead with the proposed changes.
The lobbyists accuse farmers’ organisations and hunting groups of having “dominated” the discussion on wolves under the guise of speaking for rural communities that they say claim they are increasingly being terrorised by the predator.
Environmentalists say such representations are false and that the wolf is widely liked in rural populations, which want to continue to see the creature protected.
“We would like to emphasise that rural communities … are unanimous in accepting the presence of grey wolves as an essential part of Europe’s natural ecosystems,” the letter seen by Brussels Signal reads.
The environmentalists added that in a 10,000-person “independent survey”, 73 per cent of rural Europeans said that “large carnivores have the right to exist”, with 68 per cent in favour of such creatures remaining “strictly protected”.
“These figures demonstrate that, contrary to some perceptions, residents of rural areas are very much in favour of protecting wolves,” the document states.
“The conservation of wolves is vital for maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity.
“Wolves play a crucial role in regulating prey populations, preventing overgrazing and ultimately contributing to healthier ecosystems.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen voiced support for the killing of European wolves during her latest visit to Germany. https://t.co/x7ymvwSst3
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) July 26, 2023
While the open letter concludes with a request that Brussels takes into account the results of the survey, it appears that a “war on wolves” remains popular in parts of the European capital.
Politicians and farmers in central Europe have been up in arms about the animals since the COVID pandemic. Many say lockdowns caused the continent’s western wolf populations to surge.
At the helm of the crusade is Von der Leyen, who has been on the warpath since the death of her equine companion in 2022.
Her approach has been cheered by many within the agricultural industry. Von der Leyen met German farmers in September to discuss a possible cull of wolves in Europe.
“We have 4,000 killed and injured sheep and cattle last year and this whole situation is getting out of hand,” Udo Hemmerling of the German Farmer’s Association said at the time.
Von der Leyen told the farmers that more data would have to be gathered before moves to lift protection of the species could be adopted.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen updated supporters about a potential EU-wide wolf cull on Wednesday.@UHemBer: "“We had 4,000 killed and injured sheep and cattle last year, and this whole situation is getting out of hand.” https://t.co/8VOytf6g4D
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 7, 2023