It seems that after many years of debate, the wolf in Slovakia will finally be protected all year round and the quota for its hunting will be zero. All it takes is lesser influence of the hunting lobby on the new government and the ministers, who are aware that wolves are actually helping forestry and agriculture, by restoring nature’s balance. On 15th October, an inter-ministerial working group will make the final decision about the quota for the 2020/2021 hunting season.
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This season will likely bring a total ban on wolf hunting
Non-governmental organizations have been demanding year-round protection of the wolf in Slovakia. Overall, over 100,000 people and several NGOs signed the petition. It addressed the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of the Environment. Recently, both ministers publicly declared their support to introduce a zero quota in the 2020/2021 hunting season. The inter-ministerial working group will meet on 15th of October to make their decision.
This working group sets the quota for wolf culling every year at the end of October. The annual hunting quota is based on the results of the yearly wolf monitoring. Members of this working group are representatives of the Ministry of the Environment and non-governmental organizations.
The annual quota in Slovakia
According to the Hunting Act managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, a yearly quota for wolf culling is based on proposals of the hunting areas. In Slovakia, throughout most of the year, it is prohibited to catch, injure, or cull a wolf. The ban on hunting is normally active from 16 January to 31 October. The decree also defines the areas where the year-round ban on wolf hunting applies.
The annual quota of the wolf in the hunting season 2019/2020 was a total number of 35 individuals. In the Tatra National Park however, 11 individuals were killed only a few days in the hunting season. This proved to be too great loss for one area in terms of genetic variability. Moreover, It impacts nature’s balance, as the wolf operates as an irreplaceable “sanitary engineer” of the ecosystem. From the wolf family in Chočské vrchy only two cubs stayed alive at the end of the hunting period. Their chances of survival completely without parents is very small.
Step in the right direction
The wolf represents an important element in maintaining the functionality of forest as well as non-forest ecosystems. The wolf helps to reduce the damage caused by ungulates in agriculture and forestry. Moreover, it plays a key role in curbing the spread of the African swine fever. The cessation of wolf hunting and the introduction of its full and consistent protection throughout Slovakia will increase the overall positive impact of wolves on the health of wild boar and deer populations and decrease economic damage.
The initiators of the petition were My sme les (We are a forest), the Forest Protection Group VLK, WWF Slovakia and Čergovfilm. In total, 31 organizations signed the petition. This step is a positive signal, however, the implementation of real protection will also require the fight against illegal hunting – poaching. But even this is a significant shift compared to the impact of past campaigns to protect this amazing beast, the outcomes of which have, until now, been only partial.