Italy rejects demand for wolf killing

The Italian government has taken the decision to reject demands from Italian farmers to kill wolves. Instead, the Italian government is focussing on a new management plan, that they recently launched. Italy is home to a population of wolves mainly in both the Apennines and Alps. The government recognises that the demand from farmers to kill wolves is not compatible with a sustainable coexistence between humans and wolves.

Protected by law since 1971

The wolf is a heavily debated topic in Italy. The current governmental coalition created a wolf management plan that rejects killing of wolves in various ways. This includes for example shooting, poisoning and trapping of wolves, as the Telegraph reports.

The advised measures follow the European trend towards implementing improved livestock protection techniques. The new wolf management plan states that livestock farmers have to implement proper livestock protection measures first, to minimise depredation risk. For example, it recommends installing electric fences and using livestock guarding dogs.

Sheepherding Switzerland
Sheepherding Switzerland

Since the official protection of Italian wolves in 1971, the populations continued to grow. The populations became sources of wandering individuals to travel to other countries again. We could say that the Italian wolf populations are flourishing. According to the latest estimations, there are about 1 600 wolves in the Apennines, and roughly 300 in the Italian Alps.

Mitigation measures

The Italian wolf management plan addresses 22 so-called mitigation measures, to reduce the conflict situation between wolf and people. These measures focus on reducing the probability of wolves attacking livestock. For example, livestock herds can stay overnight within an electric fenced area. Adding livestock guarding dogs, like the Italian Maremma, improves chances even further.

The Maremma is a widely-used livestock guarding dog in Italy. It is a highly social dog breed, which behaves well around humans if it is well-trained.

Majella National Park 2018
Majella National Park 2018

Should the farmer still loose animals due to wolf attacks, despite proper protection measures, then the government provides compensation. As the environmental minister from Italy stated, there is no need for culling of wolves, but for management, because coexistence with the wolf is possible.

Criticised by farmers

The opponents of the wolf presence is represented by some Italian farmers’ association in different regions. They have been pushing for the shooting of wolves. They criticise the decision of the government. With the requirements for protection measures, the farmers also expect concrete commitment from the government to pay compensations. This is a challenge not only in Italy. After the EU gave the green light for 100% compensation of losses earlier this year, EU Member States now implement it slowly in their own legislation. Yet, in many cases the compensation procedure is still very bureaucratic an insufficient to cover all costs.

The government will put forward the wolf management plan to the regional governments for the next round of approval. Regions where the anti-wolf lobby is strong will most likely reject the proposed wolf management plan and continue to demand killing of the Italian wolf population, instead of installing proper protection measures.

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