Clear statement from the EU against legal wolf hunting

Despite the continuing expansion of the wolf in Europe, in particular Central Europe, the EU Commission does not want to change the wolf’s protective status. Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture, stated to the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” that the wolf is still an endangered species in most parts of the EU. Therefore, a focused hunting of the animals to minimise their population in counterproductive and will be prohibited.

This clear statement of the EU Commission follows the request of the German Minister for Agriculture Christian Schmidt. He asked the EU Commission to change the strict protective status of the wolf to simplify its hunting. The Minister for Agriculture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Till Backhaus, supported this request.

EU supports herd managment measures

According to Hogan, the EU Commission is aware that the spreading of the wolf causes problems. A survey of the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” in the federal states of Germany last year, revealed that since the return of the wolf, more than 3500 out of 1,800,000 livestock animals have been killed in Germany. In contrast approximately 50.000 were killed by lightning, bad weather and infections like worms. Also almost all of the livestock killed were unprotected.

Mr Hogan stated that this is recognised by the EU and that a better protection of grazing livestock will be financially supported. Furthermore, the current regulation already allows the shooting of individual animals. But only if it serves the “population management” and does not jeopardise the survival of the species. This includes the shooting of so-called “problem wolves”, such as “Kurti”. The state government of Lower Saxony instructed to shoot him in April 2016 after he continuously came close to people and beg for food. It turned out that he most surely was fed by soldier in his first years being part of the Wolfpack Leo based in the military training ground Munster in Lower Saxony.

Herd protection dogs


Decisions like this are backed up by homepages such as the Swiss homepage There it says that the wolf is an integral part for a forest’s biodiversity. Studies prove that the wolf actively contributes to the natural balance of ecosystems. Furthermore, its presence can lead to more vital game populations. This is because the wolf has a regulating effect on game populations. Consequently the behaviour of deer and roe deer changes. They wander around more and do not feed on the same places all the time. This also has positive effects on forest rejuvenation.
Another issue is that human hunters take a shot animal out of the forest. This way no one else can profit from it. Whereas the wolf does not eat the whole prey at once. These dispersed carcasses are essential food sources for scavengers. Additionally, they offer necessary ecological niches for many organisms of the forest.

All major NGOs demand right to exist of the wolf in Germany

In the beginning of 2017 the WWF demanded a clear commitment of Germany’s government for the wolf’s right to exist. The organisation stated that it is necessary to work on solutions. In particular for the substantial problems of the extensive pasture grazing in Germany.

The German nature conservation organisation NABU thinks that the possible hunting of wolves cannot be a solution to wolf attacks. Their federal chairman Leif Miller said, that in most cases of attacks mistakes in the herd protection measures have been determined. He continues that it would be wrong to lead the farmers believe that the shooting of a single wolf would help them. The rest of the pack is still out there and still won’t be afraid of the livestock.

Even the professional German Shepherd Associations does not demand the general killing of wolves but more investments into herd management measures to protect the livestock.

In Austria, the NaturschutzBund Austria with the support of the European Wilderness Society and WWF started a Petition for the Wolf to return.

It is of major importance to support and reinforce the farmers in protecting their livestock. For instance with special fences and herding dogs as well as with the financing of such measures as already effectively practised in Brandenburg and in Graubünden Switzerland. 

The federal office for environmental protection and the federal documentation and counselling centre of the wolf (DBBW) recently published data that proves that there are about 60 documented wolf-packs in Germany at the moment. That is 13 more than a year ago.

7 thoughts on “Clear statement from the EU against legal wolf hunting

  • I am pleased to see a very measured response here to this problem. In answer to Annegret I would say that I have spoken to several people in the mountains near here (Northern Italy) who say that guard dogs are very effective and that since they have used these to defend their animals predation has been eliminated or much reduced. Pastoralism is not threatened by the wolf but by the failure of shepherds to take suitable precautions against them. A change that may also affect other parts of Europe, that is becoming evident in the Uk is the tendency to move from sheep farming to extensive cattle farming in the uplands. I do not know whether cattle are less vulnerable to attack – their calves might be, but it could be that this could have implications for the relationship betweeen wolves and livestock. Essentially we must stop thinking that the elimination or culling of wild animals should be the first response to problems. Therea are solutions that can permit wolves and huimans to live together: just take the one that best fits your needs!

  • Hello Annegret,

    First of thank you for sharing your concerns and fears. Let me quickly address your comments: Top predators like the wolf regulate themselves as proven in hundreds of scientific papers and in real life. In fact hunting became so important in the last 200 years, since we needed to replace the wolf in our ecosystem. Many example show that hunting has difficulties regulating a species as we can witnessed with the wild boars, the foxes and especially with the roe and red deer. Brandenburg is investing more than 6 mio euros to mitigate the damages caused by an increasing number of deer.

    The main issue is that hunting will not reduce the wolf depredation of sheep to zero and every killed sheep is one too many since we know what it takes to protect them. So even if we start hunting the wolf, sheep owners still need to protect their livestock.

    Livestock protection works in every country of the world and it can work in Germany. We need to stop arguing about whether it works or not but simple try the different approaches to livestock protection and learn which work best. There are many examples in Germany where you can see livestock protection in action including on dikes and in mountainous areas. We live in Austria and even here we have functioning livestock protection on alpine meadows above the tree line.

    What is also clear, that the funding for Livestock protection of farmers and shepherds just like funding for green spaces in cities, new river landscapes, reforestation and species protection needs to be paid for by the public.

    Lets learn from other areas in Europe and adapt their techniques to Germany. It is often us humans who have difficulties to adjust to a change, but we adapt quickly once we are informed and learn how to cope with fear.

  • Germany has the worlds highest density of wolves. 232 inhabitants live there per sqkm. Under those conditions it is not to avoid to get the wolves habituated to people. Finnland with 16 inhabitants/sqkm allows 300 wolves to live there. In Germany live meanwhile more than 1.000 wolves. This ist the end of the grazing farming, of keeping pastures open and free of succession, of preservation of cultivated landscape, of dike maintenance and of keeping grazing animals in mountain regions. The latest mentionned two are essential for security of dikes and aveiding landslides. All this in Germany, ist actually sacrificed on the altar of the holy wolf. From Sweden it is know, that around 30.000 species are meant to be threatened and it is known, that up to now approx. 3.000 species are already dissappeared because of the above mentionned reasons.
    Not one of all of the flock-protection-advocates could tell me up to now, how flock-protection can decrease wolve reproduction.
    There is no reason to treat wolves different to any other wild living animals and regulate the number of wolves, when they overload the habitat of other animals and humans.

  • The wolf surely has a wide variation in food and helps control rodents and other smaller animals all of which have an impact on the environment. Sheep are merely an easier prey for them unless the sheep are guarded by dogs and fencing and if this protection could be extended to a greater number of flocks the wolf terror would become a controlled activity.

  • Italian farmers are known to put out poisoned baits to kill wolves and kill vultures that go down to feed on the carcasses. The police often know who the culprits are but do nothing. The farmers have no fear of prosecution and are actively undermining vulture reintroduction programmes in france, which are the origin of many of the birds summering here. I agree that many farmers make the wolf the scapegoat for the depredations of the many feral dogs around. Some estimates put the number of feral dogs in the mountains at 65,000! many more than the wolf population. Pressure must be put on governments to keep their houses in order.

  • European farmers must stop blaming everything on the wolf,it’s stray dogs, ticks and fall injuries that kill the sheep. The wolf must live in peace like other carnivores in nature, it is created to do its task there…

  • Most livestock attacks/losses are due to feral dogs, not wolves. Wolves are just a handy scapegoat for farmers who are reluctant to spend time/money to ‘proactively protect’ their livestock either by use of guardian dogs, donkeys, llamas etc, by increased human presence, or by use of the many effective non-lethal deterrents.

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