Latvia hunts wolf pups and pregnant wolves

Killing of Wolf Pups priority

Latvia is the only European country where hunters kill not only local wolves but also those who are coming in from Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania.

The wolf hunting season in Latvia goes on for almost 9 months (July 15 – March 31) and hunters are killing 2 months old pups and pregnant wolf females.The killing of wolf pups was a dominant feature of the last wolf hunting season – from July 15 till October 5 hunters killed 113 wolves and 74 of them were pups (in whole season 292 wolves were killed).

Lstvia´s objective is to have no more than 200-300 wolves after the hunting season is closed in April. That goal is only met because of the constant migration of new wolves from neighbouring countries like Estonia, Russia and Lithuania where wolf hunting is less intensive. this creates the absurd situation that wolves that are protected in the neighbouring countries get shot in Latvia just because they crossed the border.

The effect of this  policy is actually a dramatic increase in the breeding rate. Right now 70% of adult wolf females are breeding every year (6 pups per litter) compared to Yellowstone NP in 2008 where out of 124 wolves only 6 were breeding pairs.

Livestock depredation in Latvia is small and usually happens repetitively to the same stock owners due to negligence:

  • 2005 – 9 sheep, 5 goats, 6 cattle
  • 2008 – 39 sheep, 6 goats
  • 2011 – 242 (of them 176 sheep)
  • 2012 – 170 (of them 163 sheep)
  • Oct 1 , 2013 – 174 (of them 152 sheep)

It is unacceptable that extreme hunting pressure is applied to a strongly protected endangered species in the 21st century and must be immediately stopped.

Please sign the petition here

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14 thoughts on “Latvia hunts wolf pups and pregnant wolves

  1. Dear Mr Vilkis, I know it’s a bizarre way of communicating but I’ve been trying to contact you regarding the petition and the situation of wolves in Latvia. I’m from NGO Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot, Poland. We have considerable experience in wolf protection ( ie: and would very much like to contact you regarding your campaign
    Please find me diana[at]

  2. Max,

    it would be valuable if you could make it clear that thanks to Latvia’s excessive wolf hunting it becomes like some kind of Black Hole / Sink for the whole European strategy of wolf reintroduction – I mean, Latvian hunters are killing Estonian, Lithuanian, Russian and Belarussian wolves and the consequence of that is a slowdown of Germany’s wolf recovery.

  3. Can we make this a regular posting instead of just comments?


    yes, sure – but I think it would be better to edit it a little bit because my posts basically consist of raw material


  4. Hi
    Can we make this a regular posting instead of just comments?

  5. +

    a group of Scots reporting about Latvia for 2 years:

    1) Nature Exchange 2013


    Mairi Buchanan, The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre Supervisor, Forestry Commission Scotland
    James Elliot, Countryside Ranger
    Jean Frame, Woodland Assistant, The National Trust for Scotland
    Neil Mitchell, Reserves Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage Loch Leven NNR
    Karen Rentoul, Operations Office
    David Sexton, Mull Officer, RSPB Scotland

    2) Nature Exchange

    Report of study tour,
    7-14 September 2012


    Liz Auty
    Jools Cox
    Tom Edwards
    Ian Francis
    Karen van Eeden

    You can take a look at LV wolf management plan “Wolf conservation plan” , especially pages 12-23 (management policy is referenced to Dr Dave Mech)

  6. Some background information about Latvia :

    Area ~ 64 000
    Forests ~ 50% of territory

    The European Roe Deer numbers in 1997 were 38 419 (allowed limit/harvest bag to hunt 4 214 and actually killed 2 137) but in 2009 – 240 204

    The Red Deer (elk) numbers in 1997 were 20 460 (allowed limit//harvest bag to hunt 4 219 and actually killed 2 675) but in 2013 – 51 000

    The Wild Boar numbers in 1997 were 15 228 (allowed limit/harvest bag to hunt 7 037 and actually killed 4 061) but in 2013 – 74 000

    The Moose numbers in 1997 were 6 974 (allowed limit/harvest bag to hunt 1 288 and actually killed 994) but in 2013 – 19 000

    The Beaver population exploded as well – in 2008 they were ~ 83 000

    In killed wolf maps one can see that majority of killed wolves are within 100 km distance from Latvia’s border

  7. to the European Commissar for Environment, Environment General-Directorate and the Secretariat of Bern Convention – is there scientific study which shows that wolf population in Latvia is sustainable without significant number of incoming wolves from Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Belarus? If Latvia can maintain 200-300 wolves only thanks to incoming / migrating wolves from 120 000 km2 donor territory then it is wrong to confer ‘favourable conservation status’ to wolf population in Latvia.

    As “ecologically effective” wolf density is 16-18 wolves per 1000 km2 then Latvia should have at least 672 – 756 wolves throughout the year for them to fulfill their ecological functions in the forest ecosystem. This is 2 – 3 times more than 200-300 wolves who are left after the hunting season is closed in April.

    Carrying capacity for wolves in Latvia is ~ 1100 wolves.

    Livestock depredation (usually happens to the same owners due to negligence):

    2005 – 9 sheeps, 5 goats, 6 cattle
    2008 – 39 sheeps, 6 goats
    2010 – 5 cattle, 41 sheeps, 2 goats + injured 6 cattle/calves , 29 sheep
    2011 – 242 (of them 176 sheep + 25 dogs)
    2012 – 170 (of them 163 sheep)
    2013 (till 1 Oct) – 174 (of them 152 sheep)

    Average price of one sheep is ~140 euro

    But one can compare that with:

    a) in 2013 there were 660 car collusions with ungulates ( 2 dead, 40 injured)

    b) replanting costs for State Forests ~ 6 million euro (because ungulates are grazing seedlings/saplings)

    c) damages/costs of wild ungulates to farmers run into millions euro annually

    VIDEO about wolf hunting in Latvia:

    1) in January 2013 some 400 hunters arrived in Zvarde to kill one wolf family (hunters claimed that there were 9 wolves in total and managed to kill one wolf and injure 2)

    Vilku medības Zvārdē

    2) Vilku medības Rūjas purvā

    Right now here’s ~1440 hunting clubs with average hunting district area/size 27 sq. km (~ 5 x 5 km) and on average 15 hunters per club.

    The two most popular ways how to hunt:

    1) build hunting tower, and make some place where one regularly bring some food for ungulates then kill deer, elk, moose, boar (or wolf/lynx who are following ungulate trail) from hunting tower

    2) hunting with beaters who are making extreme noise so wild animals run towards shooters

    See video of wolf hunt with beaters and the noise is such that grizzly bear is panicking and running out of the forest

    So the main problem is not that wolves and lynxes would kill all ungulates in the forest but extremely small hunting districts where on average 15 hunters want to kill some ungulate every time they go into forest. And every time when they see wolf’s tracks they start to scream about wolves who are ’emptying’ forest of wildlife.

    Until the World War 1 the hunting rights in Latvia historically were granted only to German landlords and Russian officials but Latvian peasants/serfs were poachers.

  8. background information about wolf situation in Latvia:

    During 1999-2007 the average hunting quota was 130 wolves (43% of population) and NOT more than 300 wolves were present when hunting season started in July.

    But during 2008-2012 the average hunting quota was 180 wolves and 200-300 wolves left when hunting season is closed. In the last few years quota is 250-300 wolves.

    Ex-director of Latvia’s Hunting department Janis Ozolins (who’s in charge of wolf/lynx monitoring) intended to publish scientific paper which would show that wolf and lynx populations in Latvia can endure bigger hunting pressure than usually is referenced in literature (for wolves above 40% and for lynxes above 10%). I mean, J.Ozolins intended to show that for a whole generation under very intense hunting pressure the local wolf population is stable and even slowly increasing – and that sounds like a music to ranchers, politicians and wolf-haters who can fiercely demand wolf harvest bag’s increase.

    However, it is unknown to what extent this picture is distorted due to incoming wolves from neighbouring countries like Russia, Belarus, Estonia and Lithuania (70 out of 201 wolves were killed in border area in 2011-2012 season).

    Because wolf hunting intensity for 15 consecutive years is above 43% I suspect that only thanks to incoming wolves from neighbouring countries (Estonia, Lithuania, Russia’s Pskov region) we still have some 200-300 wolves after hunting season (2013/2014 wolf quota was 300 wolves and hunters have killed at least 292 (apart from wolves killed by poachers)).

    In Estonia, Lithuania and Pskov region in Russia wolves are not under so intensive hunting pressure but Latvia has more ungulates thanks to prevailing elk, deer, wild boar etc. farming policy + intensive logging provides a lot of forage for ungulates and winters are mild ( only 2 winters were harsh during last 15 years).

    Total length of Latvia’s shared border with EE, LT, RU is 1200 km so if one remembers that to secure 200-300 wolves (after 300 wolf harvest) LV needs some 60-95 breeding pairs then with assumed average wolf dispersal distance ~ 100km it follows that Latvia can regularly collect/recruit wolves from 120 000 sq. km donor territory (it is 3 times bigger territory than the whole wolf areal in Latvia).

    It is possible that every year, for example, 20 breeding pairs come into Latvia from neighbouring countries. And with average litter size 6 pups it should give 120 pups in total (who then compensate annual excesses of LV hunters so that officials can pacify European Commission that LV has ‘sustainable’ wolf policy/management)

    I mean, hunters in Latvia are killing not only ‘local’ wolves but also those incoming / migrating from EE, LT, BY, RU and turning Latvia into a sink (not source) for the whole wolf meta-population and slowing down wolf renewal process by killing EE, LT, RU and BY wolves.

    One thing is certain – Latvia has the biggest wolf harvest in the whole region and my suspicion is that LV hunters are regularly killing incoming wolves from EE, LT, RU and BY.

    You can see that wolf packs are along the whole Latvia’s shared border with Estonia and Lithuania:

    1) wolf maps in Estonia

    “Status and management of wolf in Estonia”

    2) wolf maps in Lithuania:

    3) presentation “Seven year experience of restricted wolf hunting in Baltic region: management systems,culls and responses in population.”

  9. This is not just “unacceptable”, this is a crime against nature itself.

  10. Hi, like Mareks says, please sign the petition…

  11. Thanks for support! and just to clarify – this is the first wolf petition about wolves in Latvia. And it will be sent to European Commissar of Environment and Bern Convention’s secretariat who must respond if there’s complaints about mistreatment of Protected Species

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Sign the Petition for resilient forests


90 signatures

Open Letter to the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry of
Food and Agriculture
Minister Julia Klöckner
11055 Berlin

Dear Minister Klöckner,

The current situation of the forest in Germany is worrying. It is a forest crisis not only driven by climate change. The current crisis management of the forestry industry is backward-looking and harmful to the forest. The declaration announced at the meeting of ministers in Moritzburg can be described as a `Moritzburg declaration of bankruptcy´. We call on the state forestry industry to, instead of expensive rushed actions, finally carry out an expert analysis of its own work and to involve all stakeholders in this process. What is called for is a consistent departure from plantation forestry and a radical shift towards a management that treats the forest as an ecosystem and no longer as a wood factory.

On 1stAugust 2019, five forestry ministers of CDU and CSU-led states adopted a so-called “master plan” for the forest in Germany, which was affected by heat, bark beetles, fire and drought. As of 2020, the federal government is to make 800 million euros available as a reaction to climate change. This money is to be used to repair the damage caused, reforest the damaged areas and carry out `climate-adapted´ forest conversion – including the use of non-native tree species that have not yet been cultivated in the forest. Research should therefore focus on on tree species suitability and forest plant breeding in the future – keyword: `Climate-adapted forest of the future 2100´.

Remarkably, the damage caused primarily by the extreme drought of 2018 is attributed solely to climate change. Climate change is meeting a forest that is systemically ill due to the planting of non-native tree species, species poverty, monocultures, uniform structure, average low age, mechanical soil compaction, drainage etc. A healthy, resistant forest would look differently! The master plan emphasizes: sustainable, multifunctional and `active´ forest management remains indispensable – and thereby means that its unnatural state cannot be changed. Reference is made to the `carbon storage and substitution effects´ of wood products. The use of wood, e.g. in the construction industry, should be increased and thus the demand for wood should be further fueled – while knowing that the forest in Germany already cannot meet this demand. In fact, forest owners are suffering from poor timber prices due to an oversupply of trunk wood on the world market.

All these demands make clear: the current forestry strategy, which has been practiced for decades, should not change in principle. The concept is simple: cut down trees – plant trees. At best, the `design´ of the future artificial forests consisting of perfectly calculated tree species mixtures, that are believed to survive climate change without damages, can be changed. In all seriousness, the intention is to continue selling the public a so-called `future strategy´ to save the forest. This strategy seamlessly follows the model of a wood factory, that is met with general rejection and must be regarded as a failure in view of the coniferous plantations that are currently collapsing on a large scale. An essential part of the forests that have currently died is exactly the part that was reestablished in 1947 as coniferous monocultures on a much larger area than today. There is only one difference to the situation at the time: considerable amounts of money are to be made available from taxes for forest owners this time.

Climate change is progressing, and this, without a doubt, has massive impacts on all terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. To pretend that the last two years of drought alone caused the disaster is too cheap. On closer inspection, the disaster is also the result of decades of a forestry focused on conifers – in a country that was once naturally dominated by mixed deciduous forests. People do not like to admit that for more than 200 years they have relied on the wrong species of commercial tree (spruce) and have also created artificial, ecologically highly unstable and thus high-risk forest ecosystems. A whole branch of business has become dependent on coniferous wood. And now the German coniferous timber industry is on the verge of bankruptcy.

It would only have been honest and also a sign of political greatness if you and the forestry ministers in Moritzburg had declared: Yes, our forestry industry has made mistakes in the past, and yes, we are ready for a relentless analysis that takes into account not only purely silvicultural, but also forest-ecological aspects. Instead, you have confined yourselves to pre-stamped excuses that are already familiar to everyone and that lack any self-critical reflection.

Clear is: We finally need resting periods for the forest in Germany, which has been exploited for centuries. We need a new, ecologically oriented concept for future forest – not a hectic `forest conversion´, but simply forest development closer towards nature. This gives the forest as an ecosystem the necessary leeway to self-regulate and react to the emerging environmental changes. We need a systemic forest management that is no less profitable than the present one, but must be substantially more stable and resistant to foreseeable environmental changes. The aid for forest owners that all citizens are now required to pay through their taxes is only politically justified in the interest of common good, if the forests of the future that are being promoted by it, do not end up in the next disaster, some of which is produced by the forest management itself.

That is why the signatories request from the the Federal Government, and in particular you, Mrs Klöckner, a master plan worthy of the name:

On disaster areas (mainly in public forests!) reestablishment through natural forest development (ecological succession), among other things with pioneer tree species, is to be brought about. In private forests, ecological succession for reestablishment must be purposefully promoted. Larger bare areas should be planted with a maximum of 400 to 600 large plants of native species per hectare in order to permit ecological succession parallelly.
To promote ecological succession, the areas should no longer be completely and mechanically cleared; as much wood as possible should be left in the stand (to promote optimum soil and germ bed formation, soil moisture storage and natural protection against browsing). In private forests, the abandonment of use in disaster areas should be specifically promoted for ecological reasons and in order to relieve the burden on the timber market.

Regarding the promotion of reestablishment plantings in private forests: priority for native tree species (of regional origin); choose wide planting distances in order to leave enough space for the development of pioneer species. For the forests of the future: Minimize thinning (low-input principle), build up stocks through targeted development towards old thick trees, protect the inner forest climate / promote self-cooling function (should have highest priority due to rapidly progressing climate change!), prohibit heavy machinery, refrain from further road construction and expansion, permit and promote natural self-regulatory development processes in the cultivated forest and on (larger) separate areas in the sense of an compound system; drastically reduce the density of ungulate game (reform of hunting laws).

Like in the field of organic agriculture, which has been established since the 1980s, the crisis of our forests should be the reason today to transform at least two existing forestry-related universities. They should be turned into universities for interdisciplinary forest ecosystem management. This is a contribution not only to the further development of forestry science and silviculture in Germany, but also of global importance! The goal must be to produce wood through largely natural forest production and to start with it here in Germany, the birthplace of forestry.


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