The European Parliament calls on the Commission to mitigate the protection status of wolves and bears, to save livestock.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday by 306 votes to 225 against and 25 abstentions, MEPs argue that the numbers of several strictly protected species of large carnivores have been increasing in the EU. They are particularly worried about the negative impact of attacks on livestock by wolves, which are also coming into very close proximity with humans, even resulting in a loss of life. Faced with large carnivore attacks, farmers feel desperate, misunderstood and powerless, MEPs add. They also stress it is important to find the right balance between the coexistence of humans, livestock and large carnivores, and in particular in rural areas.

Better monitoring and protection status change

MEPs want the Commission to continue to assess and monitor the population of large carnivores, the damage caused by their attacks and to foster better cross-border collaboration between member states, as carnivores move across large distances. They call on the Commission to use monitoring data and, as soon as the desired conservation status has been reached, to adapt the protection status of species. The conservation status of the wolf at pan-European level already justifies its mitigation, the resolution says. MEPS also ask the Commission and the member states “to scientifically identify the best feasible preventive measures to reduce attacks”.

More funding opportunities for farmers and livestock breeders

Stressing that the compensation to livestock breeders in case of an attack varies from country to country and that they do not always receive full compensation for the damage suffered, MEPs call on the Commission “to consider amending its agricultural guidelines to facilitate compensation for damage by large predators as State aid”.

Noting that the sheep and goat sectors are already under economic strain, the Parliament defends comprehensive compensation for any losses of farm animals caused by large carnivores, including hybrid species. Moreover, MEPs ask the Commission to identify “long-term funding opportunities for preventive measures” as well as “adequate compensation for losses suffered and costs incurred as a result of large carnivore attacks, but also for the mitigation measures”.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the number of wolves has increased significantly in the last 10 years. There were 12 000 wolves in Europe in 2012, which is projected to increase to around 19 000 wolves in the 27 member states in 2022. In geographical Europe, this number would be around 21 500.