Wolves, those quasi-mythical animals that populated fears and imaginations for centuries, that almost disappeared from Europe and that little by little reappear, may be the victims of the fear of the traditional right of losing votes to the extreme right.
The conservatives fear that the extreme right and the new agrarian parties (the Dutch case is the best, with the Agrarian Party as the first political force in the last regional elections, destroying the center right) will fish in their traditional fishing grounds for votes in the countryside and have decided give battle. The main one is to stop the European ecological transition, but there are other battles, like that of the wolf.
Agricultural organizations have been asking the European Union for years to relax the regulations that have protected the wolf since 1992 and that practically prohibits killing them under any circumstances unless people’s lives are in danger. If a rancher loses cattle there are national programs to compensate him financially.
Grates and other livestock protection measures are also financed, but the wolf, a species that was on the verge of extinction in Europe, is not touched.
The traditional right has been waging this war for months without success. The leader of the conservatives, united in the European People’s Party, the Bavarian German Manfred Weber, said that “the debate on wolves in the European Union is, for some regions, and especially for rural regions, a top priority.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. Reuters Photo
It is an argument that is continually repeated and until now the European Commission has not entered the game. But last week he did. Its president Úrsula Von der Leyen, Weber’s companion, said that “the concentration of wolf packs – there are no packs, only small groups that rarely reach ten individuals – in some European regions has become a real danger.” for livestock and potentially for humans.”
A wolf killed Dolly, Von der Leyen’s pony, in October last year.
Von der Leyen joins these voices because she seeks issues on which she agrees with her conservative co-religionists, who view her with suspicion because in the last four and a half years (there are European elections next May and everything indicates that she wants to continue leading of the European Commission, for which it needs the support of the governments of the 27 member states and the European Parliament) have seen it as too close to liberals, environmentalists and social democrats and unwilling to wage the cultural battles that the conservatives waged.
In search of balance
Last May, a congress of the European People’s Party called in a resolution for a “balanced approach” on the protection status of the wolf. What they ask is that the wolf can be hunted in some circumstances. Behind the ranchers, who are financially compensated, there are associations such as that of European hunters, who see hunting as a hobby.
They also want to be able to hunt wolves, although they use arguments like those of ranchers and even people’s safety, when these are very rare. In this decade there have only been four in Europe, none with serious injuries or fatalities: two in the Italian Alps, one in Holland and another in the Czech Republic.
The last one in Spain was in 1983 when a shepherd tried to take her cubs from a wolf. The last one in France in 1990. The debate continues. Last July, the Spanish right directly asked to change the regulations so that hunters could kill wolves even if they did not pose any threat, just so that hunters could enjoy their hobby.
The fight for the rural vote even reaches German environmentalists, who ask that it be easier to eliminate specimens of wolves or even entire packs if they threaten livestock.