Latvia is the only European country where hunters kill not only local wolves but also those who are coming in from Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania.
The wolf hunting season in Latvia goes on for almost 9 months (July 15 – March 31) and hunters are killing 2 months old pups and pregnant wolf females.
The killing of wolf pups was a dominant feature of the last wolf hunting season – from July 15 till October 5 hunters killed 113 wolves and 74 of them were pups (in whole season 292 wolves were killed).
Lstvia´s objective is to have no more than 200-300 wolves after the hunting season is closed in April. That goal is only met because of the constant migration of new wolves from neighbouring countries like Estonia, Russia and Lithuania where wolf hunting is less intensive. this creates the absurd situation that wolves that are protected in the neighbouring countries get shot in Latvia just because they crossed the border.
The effect of this policy is actually a dramatic increase in the breeding rate. Right now 70% of adult wolf females are breeding every year (6 pups per litter) compared to Yellowstone NP in 2008 where out of 124 wolves only 6 were breeding pairs.
Livestock depredation in Latvia is small and usually happens repetitively to the same stock owners due to negligence:
- 2005 – 9 sheeps, 5 goats, 6 cattle
- 2008 – 39 sheeps, 6 goats
- 2011 – 242 (of them 176 sheep)
- 2012 – 170 (of them 163 sheep)
- Oct 1 , 2013 – 174 (of them 152 sheep)
It is unacceptable that extreme hunting pressure is applied to a strongly protected endangered species in the 21st century and must be immediately stopped.