Three wolves were slaughtered in the Drôme (Southeastern France, located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region) by "wildlife enforcers" at the beginning of April 2020. Among them were two pregnant wolves!

These killings, ineffective against predation, also threaten the survival of the wolf species, classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The 30 Million Friends Foundation calls on the public authorities to reinforce the effectiveness of measures to protect livestock, through more harmonious and balanced cohabitation.

Quarentine of humans has not always saved wildlife. This was evidenced by the slaughter of three wolves in the Drôme in early April 2020. " While the French citizens (were) under the coronavirus quarantine, others decided to go and kill the wolves, a protected species, in the midst of breeding season, Criticizes the Ferus Association. In total, 13 of the 560 wolves present in France have already been slaughtered since the beginning of 2020. If one of them was killed illegally by a poacher, the other 12 were "legally" killed, under French regulations which set the limit on wolves that can be killed each year. Although the wolf is protected by the Berne Convention of 1979 and the Habitats Directive of 1992, these same texts also provide for exceptions for certain reasons and conditions, from the prohibition on killing.

Two of the three wolves killed in April 2020 were pregnant wolves from two different packs. " If the shooting of females pregnant with a protected species is already wrong, it also means a high risk for the breaking up of the packs, " warns Ferus. Indeed, when an alpha is killed, the pack will disperse and the wolves, alone and weakened, will prefer to hunt the most vulnerable prey which constitutes the domestic herds. So the killings then have an opposite effect to what was expected. And as proof, the wolf attacks increase from year to year because of the increasing amount of exceptions from the prohibitions on killing wolves.

Moreover, in December 2019, the National Council for the Protection of Nature (CNPN) described the government's policy of limiting the growth of wolf populations to limit damage to domestic livestock as inadequate. " This type of practice has no scientific basis and to date has brought no real improvement, either in terms of social acceptance of the wolf, or better protection of herds ," warns the Council . This observation is confirmed by other scientific bodies: the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) and the scientific committee of the Nation Action Plan on the wolf in particular. " To allow this to continue, wolf killings would then be used to try to achieve social peace, to appease the owners of livestock.

By allowing the annual wolf removal rate to be 17% of the population - even 19% if the first rate is reached before the end of the year - (a total of 100 individuals!), the decree of January 3, 2020 pursues more of the practice of regulation than the conservation of the species." To allow the wolf population to adapt to future changes and thus ensure its long-term viability, a total of 2,500 to 5,000 adult wolves would constitute the minimum necessary, " recommend the MNHN and the National Hunting and Wildlife - now the French Office of Biodiversity - in their expertise on the future of the wolf population in France (03/2017). " This figure has been deliberately forgotten "Deplores the CNPN. Since French regulations authorize, alongside of defense killings (which aims to protect herds in the event of an wolf attack)... the practice of "just killing wolves", this can become entirely disconnected from the actual damage caused to cattle!

In addition, half of the 98 wolves slaughtered in 2019 were killed during the breeding/raising period of the pups. “Given the increasing number of wolves slaughtered, the fact that there is no longer any period of prohibition on killing, particularly during the breeding period, seems to be inconsistent with the status of protected species. The state of conservation remains vulnerable ', warn experts. Hence their recommendation, reiterated every year, aiming to lead a " more balanced policy in favor of the wolf population ".

The solution: Strengthen the alternative means of protecting herds

Ultimately, combating the predation of the wolf, while preserving the survival of the species, implies strengthening the effectiveness of the means of protecting livestock such as guarding, the use of protection dogs, the installation of electrified fences and limiting the size of herds. To achieve this, scientists recommend a more qualitative approach to these protective measures, in particular through support for the farmers and also the establishment of a vulnerability diagnosis - over the long term - in areas of high wolf predation. " The killing of wolves should not be decided until after this analysis has been made, recommends the CNPN.

But to do this, it would still be necessary to first make compulsory and systematic the technical support of farmers and the analysis of vulnerability (currently they are only implemented at the farmer's request). The administration would then have to verify, on the spot, the effective implementation of the protection devices. Finally, we should encourage the use of existing scaring devices: light devices ("foxlights"), electrical wires ("fladry") or repellant collars. According to experts, " the multiplication, recurrence and variation of innovative means - associated with the 3 essentials: humans, dogs, fences - will help keep wolves away from the herds, with greater success ".

Peaceful cohabitation with the wolf would therefore not be unrealistic if the public authorities and farmers concerned really gave themselves the means of alternative protection!

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