Wolf tourism more profitable than believed
There are already areas that have wolves that make ten times more money organizing sightseeing tours than for shooting them.
The wolf is the symbol of survival. No other large predator has managed to withstand the pressure of being human as well as the wolf. Persecuted as vermin until the 1970s after which it was considered a important species for biodiversity, it has now been recovering in parts of its territory. However, that has caused conflict with farmers, who want their numbers controlled. Wolf environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs, however, defend the presence of the wolf. Again, the wolf is in the spotlight.
Farmers, incorrectly believe that the presence of wolves is incompatible with their herds of livestock, so they are support the Spanish and French governments call for changes to the Habitats Directive which currently prevents hunting south of the Duero, where a subpopulation is critically low in Sierra Morena but allow so called management north of the river. It is thought that wolf packs cross the Duero River and attached herds of livestock. It seems north of the Duero River, farmers have learned to live with the wolves.
Conservation groups, however, consider it a mistake, hunting does not solve anything, in fact it is quite the opposite. A recent study by Alberto Fernández Gil shows that the more wolves that are killed to control them accounts for more damage. He explains that If you kill the alpha male or female, the group is unstructured and attacks livestock. Living together is not easy, but is possible with traditional methods of grazing; with livestock guarding dogs and cattle gathered at night, furthermore a life wolf is worth more than a dead one which has been proven through wolf tourism.
The Sierra de la Culebra is a particularly good area for sightings of wolves says Javier Talegón who is a biologist but also runs a company which is dedicated to organizing wolf sightseeing and he teaches the heritage of the region that is linked to the wolf. In Spain there is a strong wolf ethnography throughout the northwest. There is some particular architectural structures such as the two wolves of Cortello Lubiano, unique to this region and some trans-Himalayan areas. The wolf is an elusive animal because this is how he survives. Despite its elusiveness, the Sierra de la Culebra is a particularly good area for sightings because the presence of man has changed the landscape- Intensive logging and fires have left large open spaces in the forests of the original oaks and chestnut trees, giving way to dense formations of gorse and heather, where the wolf can hide, but not enough. With patience and good binoculars, you can see them. This is confirmed by the group that has accompanied Talegón to observe a pack move at dawn from a pine forest where they hide until the arrival of night. That’s when the wolf can scour the countryside without being bothered by the most ruthless predator on this planet, man.
Adapted and translated from an article written by Alejandro Carra for ABC Natural.