Tag Archives: wolf

WOLF: Swiss victory of biodiversity

More than half of Swiss voters (51.9%) have rejected changes to the hunting laws, proposed by the Parliament. The regulation of the wolf population as protected species, has been in the focus. (Image: @nywolforg courtesy).

The outcome clearly demonstrated that the Swiss wish to strengthen and not weaken species protection, pointed out Gabor von Bethlenfalvy, large carnivore specialist at WWF Switzerland, in a press release on Sunday, September 27.

He added that by saying no to the revised law, voters were saying yes to a compromise between hunting, regulation and protection. His group was one of many conservation and animal welfare groups to launch the referendum challenging Swiss lawmakers’ revisions to the law.

“Now parliament gets the chance to draft a progressive hunting and protection law that will continue to protect threatened animals such as lynx and beavers and not put them under even greater pressure,” von Bethlenfalvy underlined.

“With this decision, the voters have missed the opportunity to strengthen animal and species protection and to set clear rules for the coexistence of wolves and farm animals,” stated the Swiss farmers’ and hunters’ associations and the committee for mountain regions in a joint press release.

Wolf: Swiss referendum

“To kill or not to kill?” That is the questions the Suisse will answer tomorrow in a referendum on hunting.
If the law is revised in the terms proposed by the Swiss Parliament, the cantons, which today can only authorise shooting at a wolf in the event of ‘significant damage’, will now be able to act in a preventive manner.

If the Swiss accept the revision of the law, the gamekeepers will be able to shoot isolated individuals who have lost their fierce character. They will be able to kill wolves living in a pack before damage occurs. however, cannot be shot if they keep away from herds and populated areas.

“The aim is to protect farm animals, farmed landscapes and human beings,” explains the committee supporting the law. They assure that the new text is more protective since “only three species can still be regulated, against nearly 300 previously: the wolf, the ibex and the mute swan”.

Why are conservationists against it?
Nature conservation associations, including Pro Natura, WWF Switzerland, BirdLife Switzerland, Zoosuisse and the Loup Suisse group, opposed the reform and obtained this referendum. According to the Swiss Greens, “it would then be possible to shoot protected animals when there is only a probability that they will cause damage and not in the event of actual damage, which removes any incentive to take preventive measures to protect the herds “.
Environmentalists believe that “preventive measures – not ‘preventive fire’, such as supporting herd protection, should be stepped up to avoid conflict with predators.”

On this side of the border too, the revision of the law is the subject of debate. It must be said that wild animals in general and wolves in particular do not care about the demarcation lines drawn by men.

Wildlife photographer from Haut-Doubs now living in Switzerland, Alain Prêtre denounces, for example, “a law of slaughter” which threatens both the lynx and the ibex.

Twenty-five years after his official return to Switzerland, the wolf has settled down for a long time. On September 27, 2020, the Swiss population is called upon to vote on the revision of the hunting law, following a referendum launched by Pro Natura, WWF, Birdlife, the Swiss Wolf Group and Zoosuisse. The latter might facilitate, among other things, the conditions for regulating firing.

“It is a real disaster: the revision of the hunting law (LChP) is totally inappropriate and endangers the protection of the species as a whole”, the WWF said. “Animals like the lynx, beaver, gray heron and wolf, which have always been found in Switzerland, could be shot without ever having done any damage – simply because they exist. This is why Pro Natura, WWF Switzerland, BirdLife Switzerland, the Swiss Wolf Group and the zoos of Switzerland have launched a referendum”.

The revision of the law no longer does justice to the balanced compromise between protection, regulation and hunting, but above all proposes a unilateral change which operates to the detriment of endangered species. Protected species such as the lynx, beaver and mute swan can be placed on the list of species that can be regulated at any time, along with the wolf and ibex. Thus, these animals can be shot simply as a preventive measure, that is to say without even damage being attributable to them. With this new law, it is no longer mandatory to take precautionary measures (such as protecting herds in areas where wolves live), before having the right to slaughter animals. Many protected species are likely to come into conflict with certain human interests and therefore constitute potential candidates for the list of species that can be regulated.

Dealing with such conflicts of interest between conservation of species and interests of use is a delicate business. This new law is in no way fair to face this challenge. It serves a unilateral interest: during the revision of the law, the positive impact of protected species on the ecosystem was completely obscured. Wolves and lynxes, for example, improve the health of wildlife, and grazing damage in nurseries has also decreased. In addition, these species offer new prospects for tourism.

In short, this new law poses a fundamental societal question: how much space are we prepared to give nature?
The vote of May 17, 2020 has been postponed, the new date is September 27, 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions.

Belgium: Fourth wolf missing

Belgium Institute for Nature and Forest Research (INBO) has released images of three cubs of wolves, concerned that the fourth cub went missing for several weeks.

In late April or early May this year, four wolf cubs were born in the north of the Limburg province, where wolves Noëlla and August have been staying for some time now.

Normandy: wolf camera images

А large canine has been captured by an automatic camera in Normandy, northern France. Authorities believe the animal is a European gray wolf. If their hypothesis is correct, it would be the first wolf seen in this region of France for more than a century.

According to a local news report, the image of the lone canine was taken overnight on April 7-8 in Londinières, a village northeast of Normandy—on an infrared camera.

Authorities at the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) say it is likely a gray wolf (Canis lupus lupus), but caution additional information is needed to confirm the sighting.

“Given the quality of the images provided and considering that many breeds of dogs can have a size and coat colors similar to that of a wolf, this expertise should be considered with some reservation,” the OFB, which was sent images of the suspected wolf on April 12, said in a press release.

“The photo was analyzed by several people experienced in the identification of the wolf and who concluded that there was a high probability,” a spokesperson from the OFB told Newsweek. “However, it cannot 100 percent be said it is a wolf… Only DNA analysis on biological material would remove doubts.”

Licence to kill last wolf in Meurthe-et-Moselle

In in the coming weeks the prefecture of Meurthe-et-Moselle (France) will authorize  shooting of the wolf, accused of a multitude of herd attacks, especially in the south of the department. the decision announced on July 4th. The licence to kill the last surviving wolf is considered as pro-hunting lobby success, phrasing the understanding and sympathy of President Macron to their passion to spend free time killing wild animals. In March Emmanuel Macron announced that from 17% to 19% of the population of wolves can be slaughtered, while the scientific expertise, commissioned by the Ministry of Ecology, indicates that the permissions to hunt should not to exceed 10% of the estimated number so that the population presenting a numerical balance remains stable.

The wolf protection French NGO CAP Loup launched an appeal the state to abandon its plans to slaughter 500 wolves, and to prioritize the policy of protection of herds. They also insist on inclusion in the National Wolf Plan a precision that shooting a wolf should remain a justifiable exception, as provided for by the derogation rules of Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, and not a political solution of ease that becomes the rule.

French conservationists consider the extermination of 500 wolves is not a reasonable measure, pointing that  “France is increasingly  in contradiction with the international texts of the Bern Convention and especially the European Habitats Directive”. Limiting the wolf population in France to its current size means keeping it in a “vulnerablestatus quo, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is “not a favorable conservation status”, CAP Loup underlines.

Sweden joins Ice Age wolf research

A 40,000-year-old severed wolf’s head, preserved by permafrost intact with teeth and fur, has been discovered in eastern SiberiaLocals looking for mammoth ivory found the remains on the banks of the Indigirka River in Yakutia, before bringing it to the mammoth studies department at the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha.

Albert Protopopov, director of the department, said that while frozen wolf cubs had been unearthed in the past, the discovery of an adult wolf’s head was novel.

After the experts studied the discovery, it turned out that the hair on the wolf’s head resembles the mammoth cover. According to researchers, the animal has had time to grow up: the age of the beast is estimated from about two to four years, and his brain is undamaged, which will allow to continue the research.The discovery was made in 2018, but the study was carried out only now, with the relevant presentation of the findings.

These are the first remains of an adult (2-4) wolf of the Pleistocene era, found in excellent condition. Now, scientists from the Swedish Museum of Natural History will examine the DNA of the head and compare genetic information with data from modern wolves.

The Yakut wolf’s head had already made a sensation exhibited in Tokyo as part of an exposition dedicated to woolly mammoths and other creatures whose remains were found in permafrost.

Wolf diversity destructed by hunters

Many species face current populations declines, which is often a consequence of human behavior e.g. hunting, habitat destruction. This leads to genetic bottlenecks. Once genes have been lost from a population, they are irreversibly lost, and the population left behind is weaker and less able to adapt to future changes in their environment.

Wolves in Europe are currently experiencing this genetic bottleneck, due to historic hunting and the subsequent slow re-population. In response to this, scientists from the University of Lausanne sequenced the DNA of 150 wolves from museums all across Europe. Their objective was to find out if the decline in the wolf population during the last two centuries influenced the wolf’s genetics.

The study shows that just one century ago, the genetic diversity of the wolf was more than double that of the current wolf population. At the same time the individual wolves across Europe were genetically more similar to each other than today. This suggests that there was more gene flow in the past, and that wolf populations were larger. The findings are in line with the prosecution of the wolf on the whole continent in the 19-20th centuries. The results of the study also shows that the Italian wolf sub-species used to be present in other parts of Europe as well.

The scientists also found significant genetic differences between modern Eastern and Western European wolves. Hunting nearly completely eradicated the wolf in Western Europe in the 19th and 20th century. As a consequence, its genetic diversity significantly decreased at the turn of the 20th century. The re-population by the remaining wolves is the cause for the significant changes in modern wolf genetic composition. This development is in contrast to the Eastern European wolf populations, which have never been hunted to such an extent as the wolves in Western Europe. These Eastern European populations still show a similar genetic diversity as a hundred years ago.

 

Policemen shot ‘mistaken’ for wolves near Rimini

Two brothers were cited this week for firing on police after mistaking movements for those of wolves in the hills near Rimini this week.
The incident took place at Serra di Valpiano at Pennabilli while police and forest rangers were engaged in a tracking activity called wolf bowling -ANSA news  agency reports. Image: illustration

Sweden culls wolves ignoring EU laws

Swedish hunters were given the go-ahead to hunt 36 wolves and at the beginning of this week already 28 had been shot. In addition, county Dalarna has decided for an additional seven wolves to be culled starting 24 January. So, all in all 43 wolves might be killed which is more than 10% of the population.

“This news is a setback, because by the time the case would be heard by a higher court, this season’s hunt for wolves will have already ended. But what is most disturbing is that these wolves are endangered according to EU nature laws. The decision to cull them in Sweden is therefore not based on science; it breaks laws and is therefore illegal. We call on the European Commission to ensure that Sweden puts a stop to this in the future”, says Tony Long, Director WWF European Policy Office.

The wolf is protected by EU law but rooted in prejudice a rising tide of hostility is encouraging some politicians to push to kill it. France approved a cull of up to 40 wolves following protests last year. When Germany’s wolf population red wolf 60 packs, its agriculture minister recently argued that numbers must be regulated by culling. Finland has culled its wolf population down to 150, and this winter Norway is slaughtering about half of its wolf population of less than 100 animals.

This winter Belgium recorded its first wild wolf in more than a century, marking the return of the animal across continental Europe after decades of absence. Over-hunting, the clearing of forests and urban sprawl caused wolf disappearance from most of Western Europe since the beginning of the XX century. Romania is one of the European countries where the wolf never disappeared, but while it kept a territory here, its presence is not without challenges, Romanian Insider reports.