Wildlife is losing the fight

It seems like an unfair battle between humans and wildlife in Europe. Every day there are news items on the wild animals and how people want them gone. Not only the wolf and lynx, but even the bison is not welcomed by local people anymore. In the last months, multiple animals that are strictly protected under European law and FFH-directives were killed or found dead across Europe.

Germany kills the first wild bison in 250 years

This week a free roaming bison, likely from the Polish Ujście Warty National Park, swam across the river Oder from Poland into Germany. Locals spotted the bison and local authorities quickly ordered two hunters to kill the bison. It was the first bison in 250 years to reach German territory on its own. WWF is filing charges, as there was no clear potential threat to the people of Brandenburg. Meanwhile, there are several conservation projects in other regions of Germany, aiming to release the bison back into nature.

France kills three wolves

In the beginning of August, the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) killed three young wolves in Cipières. Officials claimed that they killed the wolves as an act of defence for the local sheep herd. According to them, the wolf pack ‘specialised’ on killing sheep. The wolves were 3 months old. Not even old enough to hunt and kill a sheep. Local NGOs lost their trust in the so-called ‘Wolf Brigade’ and demand answers and explanations.

Italy kills a ‘problem’ bear

In Trentino, authorities killed a bear in the end of July. The bear had an encounter with a hiker earlier, followed by an encounter with a jogger and a dog. Presumably out of its own defence, the bear attacked in both incidents. Disregarding the protest to cancel the killing, the authorities allowed the killing of this proclaimed potential dangerous bear.

A dead lynx in south Germany

In the Saalach lake people found a dead lynx, missing it’s head and front legs. The lynx ‘Alus’ was part of an international conservation project in Austria and Italy. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but the German police is working closely together with the Austrian authorities. In case it was a crime, there is a reward of 15,000 euro for the tip that leads to conviction.

International protection and cooperation

Internationally protected species require international cooperation. Romania now wants to kill wolves and bears again, as locals claim that damages go out of control. Germany recently revealed that wolves cause only a fraction of the wildlife damage, and that we should worry about ungulates instead. The presence of bears and wolf, and every other EU protected species, is not only at the costs and risk of each individual country. All member of the European Union need to address this, together with the European Commission and the European Parliament. Countries should be eligible for financial support to compensate for the damages, since the species are a contribution to European nature conservation. And as the species is internationally protected by European Law, there are also European funds that can provide financial support to the local people for effective livestock (and beehive) management measures to minimise damages and conflicts.

Instead of killing all these animals, there is enough proof that protection measures can minimise conflicts. For example, the shepherd Knut Kucznik in Brandenburg. Since 2005 he has herd protection dogs among his 480 sheep and 50 goats. Kucznik lives in the middle of wolf-territory, only 60 km away from a wolf pack. Never has a wolf been able to attack and kill his livestock.

We are currently working on a handbook to inform anybody who is involved and interested on the best practices of herd management in Europe. The book will be available soon, combining international knowledge and experience to support a co-existance between humans and the European wild nature again.




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8 thoughts on “Wildlife is losing the fight

  1. hello again, I agree that animals are driven by a number of various factors in their search for food and shelter, but there is one undisputable fact about Romanian bears: this country has unnatural density of that species comparing to all other Carpathian countries. A lot of bears raised formerly at “bear farms” got accustomed to anthropogenic foodstuffs, and many of them lost their natural tendency to avoid close encounters with people. If we add to that, common in Romania accessibility to open garbage pits and lack of measures preventing wildlife from exploring garbage bins in settlements – the origins of present problems are quite clear.

  2. Hi again, as you probably know bears are foraging opportunists i.e. they eat whatever is most accesssible and easy to find. Garbage is simply an easy (sometimes very attractive) source of food and all around the world (including Yellowstone) it was difficult to prevent bears from feeding on waste. Romanian forests are not different regarding the abundance of natural forage from Polish, Slovak or Ukrainian woods. As for Ceaucesku, he was not interested in saving an iconic species but in an access to best hunting trophies. On the other hand, people who suffer losses caused by protected species, should obtain a compensation from the state, like it is in Poland.
    The E. bison project I was involved, was the first introduction performed at Vanatori Natural Park, not in the south.

  3. Hi,

    our colleague was part of the Bison Rewilding Projekt in Romania in 2016. So we know the details and the challenges first hand 🙂

  4. Hello Mr Perzanowski,

    If you study the scientific literature, you will quickly realise that Bears do not eat human wast or food because it tastes them better than their natural food, but rather because they do not find enough food in the forests. In addition, regardless of what we think of the past political leader, the protection of the bears saved this iconic and for the ecology important species. It is correct that the impacted livestock owners require the support of EU and government.

  5. Dear Mr Rossberg, I visited Romania many times in connection with their European bison restitution project. The problem with bears there is a result of irrational ideas of N. Ceausesku who promoted so called bear farms to increase a number of those animals in the country. Bears around Brasov come down to the town to look for food in local garbage which is easier than to hund deer. Forests in Romania although being recently under severe logging pressure are still much more close to natural state than the majority of forests in west of Europe.

  6. Hello Mr Perzanowski, we were just asa week in Brasov so we are very familiar with the Romanian situation. Travelling to Brasov we always past the total barren plains of Sebes and Sibiu and as you know we are part of the Deforestation platform and just returned from the Old Growth Forest conference in Brussels. The number of bears in Romania are becoming a problem simply because of the continuing destruction of the forests and total overgrazing of the meadows by sheep. Romania is on the best path to total destruction of its most important wealth, its nature. Blaming the bears or wolves for this is kind off absurd. Romania is a party in the Carpathian Convention and is attracting millions of EU fund for Sustainable transportation, Sustainable Tourism and Old Growth Forest protection. Romania could be the number one tourist spot when it comes to wild area and wilderness and the accompanying wild animals. Just look at the millions of travellers visiting the Serengeti and other areas of the world where nature is still intact. The bears and wolves are just focusing the flood light onto the real underlying problems, caused by the increased urbanisation, industrialisation of the agricultural sector and the deforestation of the natural wonders of Romania. We hope that it is not too late for Romanians to recognise the true value of theses natural wonders and that the young generation is willing to fight for a future where wild animals have their space just like we humans have our space. Food for thought… and in case you are looking for a partner in this endeavour for a more sustainable future, please contact us. We are glad to help just like we already do.

  7. it is unfair to compare situation of bears or wolves in Romania and countries like Italy or Germany. Romanian population of brown bears counts several thousand animals and every year there are causes of bears attacking people even in fairly large towns like Brasov. Few wolves or bears that occur in western Europe can be effectively managed and their potential conflicts with people easily mitigated.

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