As the wolf makes a comeback in numbers in Europe, so are the unfounded fear from it. The Telegraphs from the UK reports on organised wolf hunting in France.

Conservation groups furious as government allows limited hunting of protected grey wolf amid rise in attacks on farm animals. The wolf is a protected species under the Berne convention and European law. It can no longer be hunted or poisoned. Yet culls can exceptionally take place when all other attempts at protecting local livestock have failed. Under a government wolf plan, some 24 individuals can be “removed” – the official term – in this way per year.

Initially this was a job only for state marksmen, but given their lack of success – only seven were killed last year – the government widened the remit to “wolf lieutenants”. Now, wolves can be shot in ordinary hunts in areas where they pose problems.

Conservation groups are furious. “To return to wolf hunts as if we were in the Middle Ages is scandalous. That the local authorities are organising them is even worse,” said Jean-François Darmstaedter, president of Ferus, who threatened to challenge their legality in the European courts.

“We call them ‘political killings’ as their only aim is to allow farmers to let off steam but they will solve nothing. Blindly shooting wolves will have no effect other than to exacerbate the problem. If you kill the alpha male, you can split up a pack, which will cause far more damage.”

The only solution, he said, was to protect flocks properly by using fierce Pyrenean “patou” mountain dogs, penning sheep inside high electrified fences at night and firing warning shots if wolves approach. “These measures can reduce predation to almost nil,” he insisted.

The 1. European Wolf Festival is going to take place addressing these issues and offering the possibility to discuss possible solutions with wolf experts from all over Europe.

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Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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