European Wilderness Society

Iberian Wolf on its way to complete protection

Thanks to a special clause in the Habitat Directive, the wolf is not strictly protected in all of Spain as it is in most other EU countries. In North-Western Spain, more excatly north of the Duero river, hunting Iberian wolves is still allowed. Due to this exemption and illegal poaching, the wolf in Spain is under threat. The Spanish populations are isolated from each other and one of them was officially declared extinct just a few years ago. Hence, the two NGOs Lobo marley and ASCEL have fought for years to change the national status of the wolf to protect it everywhere in Spain. Several legal decisions in the last years have already confirmed that blindly shooting wolves is illegal anywhere is Spain and that quota have to be transparent. But only a country-wide strict protection of the wolf can really safeguard the species.

Our goal is forever set: a common course of coexistence and convenience between wolves and livestock holders and farmers. We know how to do it and we extend our clean and competent hands to the administrations to implement peace, for everyone’s benefit, in this absurd and delirious war.

This is an unstoppable movement, with a history of making each and every one of its followers a protagonist, who through specific actions feel that conservation of species is not only the work of biologists, ecologists or naturalists. It is our right and obligation.

Luis Miguel Domínguez Mencía
Mission statement of Lobo Marley

Lobo Marley is contuining its fight for the Iberian wolf with legal measures, political work, petitions and fundraising campaigns. Their own Enrique Perez provided the following information about their current successes to the European Wilderness Society:

First ever verdict for poachers

“On 9th June, we could find published in most national and local newspapers in Spain and some TV channels, the outcome of the first trial for illegal hunting of a wolf held in this country, which Lobo Marley and ANADEL managed to bring to court four years ago. It has now finally has concluded after a really long legal process. We got a pioneering sentence of the Criminal Court. Two hunters condemned, one of them sentenced to 6 months in prison, and both having a joint fine of up to 57.000€ for killing an Iberian wolf in Avila, South of the Duero River. The region south of the Duero river is under EU Habitats Directive Annex 4 regulation, which was the key factor for this exemplary sentence.

We are very proud of the work of our lawyer, Albina Florez, and extremely happy with this important historical precedent which could set legal jurisprudence.

Enrique Perez
Lobo Marley

Process to protect the Iberian wolf has started

Furthermore, the good news continue. We made a request for improving the protection status of the wolf in Spain a few months ago. We took this action after a meeting at the ministry where we handed over 150.000 signatures collected through last year, which requested full protection of our wolves. A formal request was also presented by ASCEL, before the Enviro Ministry’s Scientific Committee, following the ordinary bureaucratic procedure that shall be taken for any species possible reclassification status request. The formal petition was to indlude the wolf within the ‘Spanish Catalog of Threatened Species’ under the category of vulnerable for the entire Spanish territory. In addition or alternatively, they demanded the inclusion of the whole population in the ‘List of Wild Species under Special Protection’, provided that all scientific, historical, and legal criteria are met.

Last October, after acknowledging receipt of the formal request accompanied by the corresponding report, the Sub-directorate General for Natural Environment of the Enviro Ministry submitted these documents to its Scientific Committee of experts to issue an official position. To date only the population south of the Duero River is included under this protection. Therefore, the two requests were analyzed separately.

Scientific Comittee acknowledges the Iberian wolf´s value

Finally, the inclusion of the Iberian wolf in the vulnerable category in the ‘Spanish Catalog of Endangered Species’ was not recommended, as the information provided on the size of the distribution area at the beginning of the 20th century was not conclusive. However, its incorporation in the ‘List of Wild Species in Special Protection Regime’ was unanimously recommended by the Enviro Ministry Scientific Committee, because of the “tangible proves of its importance as a cultural and scientific national heritage, as well as due to the great relevance of the environmental services produced by the presence of this carnivore in our natural ecosystems”.

So right now we are waiting, keeping our fingers crossed, the final approval of the ministry, which is the last step before the administration makes the announcement public and publishes it in the State Official Newsletter. This would imply that the Iberian wolf North of the Duero River (Annex V), and where the majority of the wolf population lives, will not be trophy hunted anymore in the first place, and would move to a higher protection rank within the ordinary management policies followed by the respective autonomous communities, in which Spain is structured and which have most environmental management delegated powers.

Final decision pending

While we all wait in tense calm, and the public attention is still focusing on the final decision from the Spanish Enviro Ministry´s Senior staff, regarding the inclusion of the Iberian wolf in the “List of Wild Species under Special Protection Regime”, we at LOBO MARLEY, are moving into the next step. After presenting before the Enviro Ministry 150.000 signatures last year requesting the full protection of the wolf to the attention of the Spanish Prime Minister, we received a letter from his Cabinet Office Chairman, Mr Ivan Redondo, inviting us to continue exchanging information on the subject, keeping contact and working together. In that regard, we have just requested a meeting after the summer for discussing with him and his team the outcome of the ongoing request, but also the actual possibilities and way forward for  the inclusion of the wolf in the ‘Vulnerable’ category in the Spanish Catalog of Endangered Species, which is after all what all of us pro-wolf NGOs are looking forward and what we permanently advocate for.”

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