Killing wolves and bears is the only solution to solve human-wildlife conflicts, says the Romanian Ministry of Environment. This statement comes just one year after the ministry cancelled their plan to kill 552 bears, 657 wolves, and 482 wildcats in 2016. At that time, more than 5.000 people requested the ministry to stop these actions.
Back then, the Romanian government promised to take action by creating the Wildlife Emergency Service. Its staff is supposed to protect people by tranquillising and relocating problem animals if needed. However, the service exists only on paper, says Cristian Papp, Large Carnivore expert at WWF-Romania. Now, the ministry proposes again to kill wolves and bears, ignoring scientific proof and advice from consultants, like the Romanian Academy of Science.
Killing does not solve anything
Killing bears and wolves is just not solving the problem. There are plenty of examples that show how killing can have the opposite effect and increases the number of conflicts. Killing a wolf that belongs to a wolf pack, creates a weak pack. A weak pack takes less risk when hunting, thus takes easy prey. Choosing between a fluffy sheep or an adult red deer with big antlers becomes very simple. Herd protection measures proof in different European countries that it minimises livestock depredation often by more than 90%.
Wolves play a crucial role in restoring nature’s balance in Romania. Without proper herd protection measures, wandering wolves will keep killing sheep. But put this loss in perspective to loss to extreme weather conditions, or the damage of ungulates. Comparing these numbers, the wolf accounts only for a fraction of the annual costs of wildlife damage.
Why are there human-wildlife conflicts?
Romanias wildlife management system focusses on economic profit, not on conservation of protected species. For example, humans leave little room and food for the bear by over-harvesting forest fruits and massive deforestation activities. Human settlements have poor waste management, attracting the hungry bears to the packed garbage bins. If only better education, awareness and implementation was provided as conflict prevention measures…
It seems that the Romanian Ministry of Environment has a mixed opinion on protecting the environment. They not only support the killing of protected wildlife, but also allow the continued destruction of natural wonders. The last free flowing Jiu river in the Carpathians is currently dammed for hydroelectric power. This would mean the loss of a great potential WILDRiver, already located in a protected national park.
A better solution
The better solution for a peaceful coexistence of human and nature relies still on acceptance. Humans have to accept nature, and need to adapt accordingly. Using proper herd management measures will minimise the human-wildlife conflicts. Therefore, a cooperation between locals, politicians, hunters, farmers and NGOs is crucial.
“Natürlich sind Beutegreifer eine ernste Bedrohung. Das gibt uns aber nicht das Recht, Arten auszurotten. Die Zukunft der Schäfereien und der Erhalt der Artenvielfalt sind untrennbar miteinander verbunden. Wir arbeiten gemeinsam daran, dafür Lösungen zu finden.”
“Of course, predators are a serious threat. However, this does not give us the right to eradicate species. The future of sheep farming and the preservation of biodiversity are inseparably linked. We are working together, to find solutions.”
Günther Czerkus, Bundesverband Berufsschäfer (BVBS)