The battle against wolf and bear cull is mainly fought in courts in Slovenia. Last year, the Constitutional Court stopped both culls for the first time, as they did not meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive. What followed was an uproar of protests by farmers against the two large carnivores. As the entire issue became highly political, the Slovene Parliament decided for a fast fix of the court’s cull stop by an intervention cull law. A similar new law has been proposed for this year as well. However, the Constitutional Court has now ruled that last year’s intervention law is against the Slovene constitution. As a result, the intervention law is nullified. While the law has already been executed, this means the government cannot pass such laws in the future.
Please also read: Spanish court declares wolf hunting illegal
Breaching EU Conventions
In this case, the Court did not focus on the content of the intervention law and whether it meets the Habitats directive. This is not in Constitutional court’s jurisdiction. Instead, they found that the way the law was passed breaches EU conventions and the Slovene constitution. In fact, the legislative-juridical service of the Parliament has warned that the law might be against the constitution. Yet, the Parliament decided to ignore the warning and pass the law regardless.
Firstly, the law represents a breach of the separation of the three branches of power, namely legislature, executive and judiciary. It is the Government and the Ministry that are normally responsible to prepare the culling decrees. However, the Parliament took over that role now by preparing the intervention law. Furthermore, the Administrative Court had found the culling decree to not fit the Habitats directive and hence stopped it. The intervention law with nearly the same content was then used to circumvent this decision.
Late ruling did not stop the cull
In addition, during the preparation of the law, the state did not fulfill the Aarhus Convention sufficiently. The Aarhus Convention provides access to justice for non-governmental environmental organisations. Thus, it is normally the Administrative Court that is responsible to decide when environmental decrees are breaching the Habitats Directive. However, by passing an intervention law rather than a decree, these matters are no longer under the jurisdiction of Administrative Court. In this way, the access to justice based on the Aarhus Convention is limited. Now, the Constitutional Court was the last resort where environmental organisations could warn about the breaches. However, it is not in Constitutional Court’s jurisdiction to examine whether the content of the intervention law meets the Habitats Directive requirements.
Unfortunately, although the Court has treated this case as priority, the decision only came when next season of conflicts is starting. Additionally, as the court did not stop the law immediatelly, the cull still took place.
Wider impact of human-wildlife conflict
This case shows clearly how the heated human-wildlife conflict can easily become political. The Parliament was rushing with the intervention law to please the protesting farmers. In this way, they completely forgot about the science and the law, acting against both. Therefore, the passing of the intervention law in undemocratic ways was only to please a small societal group. In that way, the wolf is a dangerous animal, as it causes humans to neglect the basic concepts of our society.
This example clearly points to the fact how necessary it is to manage and reduce the human-wildlife conflict. One way of doing this is to take farmers and livestock owners as partners rather opponents to wolf conservation. By empowering them to use livestock protection to reduce depredations by wolf. The European Wilderness Society has recently submitted a unique LIFEstockProtect project doing just that.
How do you think that EU Member States can work towards sustainable coexistence between people and wildlife, without relentlessly killing animals? Let us know in the comments below!