Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León ask to appear before the European Parliament to explain the ‘real’ situation of the wolf in their territories.
— The Regional Minister for the Environment, Land and Housing and her regional counterparts met today with the European Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevincius.
— The communities that account for 95% of the wolf population in the whole country have signed a letter criticising the fact that the six-yearly report submitted by Spain on the state of the wolf does not correspond to the data provided by the regional governments and defending the need to strengthen their role in the management of these populations.
— Ángeles Vázquez stresses that the evaluation of Galician populations in recent years shows that the conservation status of the species in the Community is “favourable” and says that the work to update the wolf census is along the same lines.
— The Galicia Europa Foundation participates in the meeting and collaborates with the Regional Minister in her visit to the European Commission.
Brussels, 12 September 2022. Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León will ask to appear jointly before the European Parliament to make known the “real” situation of the Iberian wolf north of the Duero River, as well as the difficulties faced by the four communities in its management since the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miterd) decided to include it, a year ago, in the List of wild species under special protection regime (Lesrpe).
This is what the Regional Minister for the Environment, Territory and Housing, Ángeles Vázquez, accompanied by her regional counterparts, said this morning to the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevincius, with whom they held a meeting in Brussels to discuss the Iberian wolf, its current state of conservation and the need to maintain the difficult balance between this species and the agricultural and livestock activity with which it shares its territory.
In this regard, the Galician official stressed that to ensure the continuity of the wolf in Galicia and its coexistence with the primary sector, in 2008 the Xunta approved a specific management plan which, among other measures, provided for the possibility of authorising specific control actions on the populations of this species, as well as economic aid aimed at both preventing possible attacks and, if necessary, alleviating the damage caused, mobilising 5.85 million euros for this purpose between 2016 and 2022.
The result of these efforts, as he said, was that during the last 15 years it was possible to maintain the existing wolf populations in Galicia in a “favourable” state of conservation, while guaranteeing their coexistence with the rural environment. This situation, however, contrasts with the conclusions transmitted by the central government to the EU authorities on the current situation of the species in these four communities, a territory that concentrates 95% of the Iberian wolf specimens in the whole country and whose reality has nothing to do with that of the populations south of the Duero River.
Thus, the four regional representatives handed the Commissioner a joint letter in which they explain the situation that the inclusion of this species in the Lesrpe meant for their territories, which prevented them from carrying out the management and conservation of the wolf as they had been doing for more than a decade, with controls through the extraction of specific specimens due to the damage caused to livestock farms.
In the same vein, they criticise the fact that the six-yearly monitoring report submitted by Spain on the wolf contains “incomprehensible errors” and concludes that the conservation status of the species is “unfavourable and inadequate”, something that does not correspond to reality or to the data provided by the regional governments, the administrations responsible for the management of the populations in their respective territories.
For this reason, they also defended the need to reinforce the weight of the regions in the European Union so that the work carried out within the framework of their competences by the autonomous communities can be taken into account and valued.
The four regions account for 95% of the Iberian wolf specimens in the country.
Situation in the Galician Community
Regarding the specific situation in Galicia, Ángeles Vázquez explained that the analysis carried out by the Xunta on the population dynamics of the species, its natural distribution area and future prospects during the period 2013-2018, concluded “clearly” that the wolf has a “favourable” conservation status.
In fact, he said that the work to update the wolf census in the Community – which is expected to be completed in the last quarter of this year – indicates that the situation remains in the same line. “Solidarity yes, but we urge the central government to let the regions north of the Duero river continue to manage the species,” said the Regional Minister, who recalled that in Galicia there are an average of six attacks per day.
Invitation to visit Galicia
Given this situation and the damage that the current status of the wolf represents for their communities, the four regional representatives invited the Commissioner, as well as a delegation from the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, to visit their respective territories to see the real situation of the wolf on the ground and hear first hand the demands and problems of farmers and residents of the areas in which it is concentrated.
Likewise, they also invited the Commission to carry out the audits they deem appropriate to compare the wolf data in the four communities.
It should be remembered that in September last year, a ministerial order came into force that included all Iberian wolf populations north of the Duero River in the List of Wildlife Species under Special Protection Regime (Lesrpe). This decision, adopted unilaterally by the central government and without taking into account the criteria of the main wolf-producing communities, meant the practical prohibition of any hunting control measures against the species due to its new level of protection.
Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León appealed the order before the courts, as they understood that the favourable conservation status of the species did not justify the decision from a scientific point of view, nor had it been adopted following the previous procedures or the usual steps to introduce a new species into the Lesrpe.
In spite of this, last July the Ministry approved the new Strategy for the conservation and management of the wolf and its coexistence with rural activities, again without taking into account the arguments of the main wolf communities and with the vote against Galicia, among others.
The Galicia Europa Foundation, present at the meeting
During the Regional Minister’s visit to Brussels, the Galicia Europa Foundation was present, carrying out its work as an advocate of Galician interests before the European institutions. This work was carried out by Ana Ramos, the director of the Foundation’s office in Brussels, who took part in the meeting. Subsequently, the director attended the meeting with Copa-Cogeca, the European association of agricultural professionals and cooperatives, to inform them of the situation of the wolf in the community and to report on the dialogue with the Commissioner.
The Foundation will continue its work with Community bodies to support the Galician position on this issue, as well as other issues in which the community has an interest.
Further: Government of Galicia