Slovakia finally bans wolf hunting, now a fully protected species
The wolf is set to become a fully protected species in Slovakia after the country implemented a total hunting ban.
Wolf hunting will be illegal in Slovakia from June 1, after the country finally adopted new rules that bring it in line with European Union guidelines.
European Commission infringement proceedings were launched against Slovakia in 2013 for violation of a directive on the conservation of natural habitats and wild flora and fauna. While this resulted in a ban on wolf hunting on Natura 2000 sites, wolves in other areas were not protected: hunters in Slovakia have therefore legally killed nearly 1,800 wolves since 2000.
In addition to legal hunting, wolves are also endangered by poachers.
“Wolves, as major predators, play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature,” says Jerguš Tesák, a leading carnivore specialist at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Slovakia, one of the many environmental NGOs that have long campaigned for a ban.
“If we are serious about protecting wolves, we need to protect them, their habitats and their travel routes. We currently have a record number of deer or wild game, but a healthy wolf population is also having a positive impact on the landscape. It reduces the deer population, prevents damage to young trees and supports the restoration of natural forests. There is no reason to hunt wolves in our country.
The Danube and Carpathian region – also known as the Green Heart of Europe – is home to around two-thirds of Europe’s populations of large carnivores, including brown bears, wolves and lynxes. There are currently around 12,000 wolves in Europe (excluding Russia), of which 1,000 to 1,800 are in Slovakia. For the 2020-2021 hunting season, the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture has approved the hunting of 50 wolves.
Last week, one of Europe’s biggest bears was killed – possibly illegally – by hunters in Romania.
These ecologically critical, strictly protected and culturally important mammals are threatened not only by legal and illegal hunting, but also by the increasing fragmentation and shrinkage of their habitats caused by the construction of roads and other infrastructure.
However, despite these fierce challenges, in recent years large populations of carnivores, especially wolves, have flourished in both Central and Eastern Europe and other parts of the continent – often bringing them closer to humans and resulting in new challenges.
“We need to stop and reverse biodiversity and habitat loss by 2030,” adds Miroslava Plassmann, CEO of WWF-Slovakia. “Within this framework, we focus on protecting the natural habitats of large carnivores, including their ecological corridors, avoiding unsustainable management practices, improving connectivity at the landscape level, reducing illegal logging, improving the coexistence of large carnivores-humans and reducing conflicts, and promoting sustainable use of natural resources. “
Slovakia is already providing compensation to farmers for losses caused by wolf attacks. New legislation is being discussed and revised by the farming community which will respond to their demand for more efficient and simplified compensation procedures.
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