On Earth Day, the Minister of Environment symbolically signed the decree, enacting the year-round protection of the wolf in Slovakia. The wolf will thus be put on the list of Slovakia´s protected animals and its hunting of will permanently end on with the 1st of June. From this point on, the social value of the wolf will be €3,000. It will be prohibited to capture, injure, kill, breed, sell or exchange wolves within the country. It is the Ministry of Environment which will evaluate requests for individual shootings. The decree also gives guidelines for farmers on livestock protection, providing information on how best to protect their animals in order not to have them attacked.
Protecting not only the wolf
The decision marked the end of decades of debate between environmentalists and hunting associations. In most Member States of the European Union the wolf is under strict protection as a species in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive. Its hunting is therefore only possible with a special permit. Nevertheless, Slovakia´s relevant regulations have so far been less strict and have allowed wolf hunting on a seasonal basis.
In 1995, Slovakia introduced a ban on wolf hunting throughout the country and throughout the year. This regulation was partially abolished in 1999. Since then the ministry responsible for the matter has set a yearly hunting quota for the wolves. This quota had reached up to 100 individuals per year. Prior to the current decree for the permanent ban on wolf hunting, in 2015 the authorities implemented some changes in favour of protecting the wolf population, by increasing the number of areas where hunting was not possible. Now, the Minister of Environment said that environmental protection, including species protection is one of Slovakia’s priorities.
This new decree does not only serve to protect the wolf. It also facilitates the protection of non-intervention areas, facilitates some swaps that we plan in the forests in the future to ensure a better position for private owners and that nature conservation is not in conflict with economic interests. The goal is to have a country that is successful, but also rich in biodiversity and beautiful nature.
There are only estimates of the number of wolves living in the country, and the data is very diverse. Previous statistics from hunting associations put the population number at more than a thousand. However, environmentalists mention 35 to 40 packs, meaning nearly 400 individuals, and the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic notes a population of about 600 individuals.