Wolf attacks on domestic livestock are on the rise in parts of Europe, according to some MEPs this week.
MEPs in Brussels voiced their concerns over the effects of increased wild populations of large carnivores, particularly wolves, on livestock farming.
They said their numbers have increased as a result of successful conservation measures, but that this success has meant more attacks on farm animals.
Wolves in Spain killed over 3,700 sheep and cows in the Castilla y León region of the country in 2019, according to figures from local authorities.
Spain has the largest wolf population in Europe, with 90% of the large predators concentrated in the northwest of the country.
Elsewhere, Italian MEP Herbert Dorfman said that in his native region of Südtirol there was “a breed of sheep that has been restored to the area after 20 years of investment of EU money” and that “now those sheep are under threat from local wolves”.
Some MEPs described how achieving a coexistence between livestock and the large predators is “very difficult”.
German MEP Norbert Lins said that following successful conservation measures in recent years, the increasing numbers of wolves and other large predators in some parts of Europe has reached a point at which it is necessary to review and consider the impact.
He said “the state of many” large predator populations have improved significantly.
Another German MEP, Ulrike Müller, said that policy makers “must bear in mind that a larger number of such animals [wolves] will lead to conflict with people, but in particular with agriculture”.
“We see the increasing number of attacks on domesticated animals with great concern. It is not just a question of the economic losses that farmers are facing, but the role of animals in the economy itself.”
Czech MEP Ivan David described how the impact of increasing wolf populations has “regional differences”.
“For example, north of Sweden, that is one area where there won’t be any conflict, but what about the densely populated areas of central Europe?
“I am convinced that in these areas, significant damage is caused by the presence of wolves.”
He called for a “reasonable rational approach” for what is becoming a “complex situation”.
In 2019, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called for wolves to be reintroduced in Ireland almost 250 years after the species became extinct here. The suggestion received significant backlash from farming communities.