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 Wolves Retain Protection Status In Europe, 01 Dec 2006
Elffster
Posted: Dec 2 2006, 01:58 AM


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Strasbourg, France It is still illegal to hunt wolves throughout Europe, despite a bid by Switzerland to downgrade the animal's protected status.

For the second year in a row, the Swiss authorities proposed transferring the wolf (Canis lupus) from "strictly protected" to "protected" under the Bern Convention on European wildlife conservation. If the Swiss proposal had been approved, it would have allowed some hunting of the species across Europe.

The European Commission, with support from WWF and others, argued that wolf populations have not recovered in most EU member states, and that a further weakening of protection was seen as unnecessary. Croatia, with up to 170 wolves after a long recovery phase, also did not support the downlisting.

The proposed amendment was unjustified and unnecessary," said Gerald Dick of WWFs Global Species Programme. To add insult to injury, the Swiss authorities have cut back on herd protection measures and are now blaming the wolves.

The decision comes less than a week after a wolf, reported to have killed around 30 sheep, was shot dead in the Swiss canton of Valais. It was one of only around a half a dozen wolves found in Switzerland.

Legally, the convention allows wildlife to be killed under exceptional circumstances, as Switzerland argued after shooting the wolf in Valais a couple of weeks ago.

WWF is considering pressing criminal charges against the local government for their action.

Wolves first returned to the Alps in 1985. Today, more than 100 wolves live in the French and Italian areas of the western Alps. Wolves are dispersing slowly towards Switzerland and the eastern alpine region.

Switzerland has just 3-4 wolves that live along the border with Italy.
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