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Wolf Protection Debate Intensifies as Populations Grow in Europe

by | 6 June 2024

The return of wolves in Europe has sparked significant debate, with varying views on their protection and impact. In northern Spain’s Picos de Europa mountains, Guadalupe Vada, a sheep farmer, experienced an attack on her flock, attributed to wolves taking advantage of fog to isolate and attack her sheep. Since 2021, wolves in Spain have been “strictly protected,” limiting farmers’ ability to respond to attacks.

The wolf population, buoyed by EU wildlife protection measures, has grown by 81% since 2012 to around 20,300 across nearly all EU countries. While wolves help control populations of wild boar and deer, they pose challenges for rural farming communities. In Spain, sightings extend to areas like Madrid, where wolves had been extinct.

The divide over wolf policy reflects broader political tensions. Conservationists support the rewilding of Europe, while some rural communities and politicians argue for relaxed hunting restrictions. This issue became more prominent following EU President Ursula von der Leyen’s support for downgrading wolves’ protection status, partly influenced by a wolf attack on her own pony.

Overall, the debate over wolves involves balancing environmental benefits with the socio-economic impacts on rural populations.