Monday, January 18, 2016

Report: Protest against wolf killing in France

via The Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin's Facebook page
Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin's photo.
Image courtesy of The Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

Lyons: they say “no” and march against the wolves hunting.

In France, such as in Italy and in every Alpine country, wolves came back about 20 years ago, after a serious risk of extinction. This is causing a lot of conflicts, as one can easily understand, between animalists, who obtained to list them in the endangered species, and the lobbies of hunters and breeders, who want to be allowed to hunt and kill them and, for this, they are putting pressure on governments. 

From the site of LPO-Coordination Rhône-Alpes, about the participation to the public policies and debates of the region we can learn what is happening in France in these last days.

̴ Brunella

“On 16th January in Lyons there was a great public mobilization organized by many associations pro wolves that met and marched together against the possibility to kill more wolves than last year. There were also Paul Watson, the Sea Shepherd founder, Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, the president of LPO France, Yves Paccalet, philosopher and vice-president de Ferus et Fabrice Nicolino, journalist at Charlie Hebdo and a great supporter of wolves.

In 2015, for the first time, in France the population of wolves decreased and just then the government yielded to the pressure of farmers and hunters and allowed to increase the number of possible hunted wolves of 50% more than last year: 24 wolves in 2014-2015, 36 wolves in 2015-2016.

Even if the wolves are a protected species in Europe and in France, the new law gives full powers to the hunters:
. they can shoot at wolves during their shooting parties
. there can be prefectural decrees that allow the hunters association of a department to kill wolves of that area
. they can use rifles for night hunting
. they can use thermic cameras
. they can shoot at wolves for preservation in the Cévennes National Park
. they can hunt wolves using night floodlights, which is forbidden in common game hunting.

On 2nd July 2015, 34 wolves were already killed, so the ceiling was already reached. But it’s a news of these days that the Government is planning to rise the number of wolves that can be killed.
It seems that the wolf hunting, instead of being the last solution, is taking priority over a more reasonable policy of protection of sheep. Yet, this kind of hunting damages the packs and, as a direct consequence, it damages sheep!!

The return of wolves is a chance for all the countries where they are living again. They form an alliance with foresters (it’s the second more important economic activity in the mountain areas) and contribute to reduce the problems caused by deer, wild boars and chamois. Wolves are also important for tourism (the first more important economic activity in mountain areas) because they help to develop an eco-tourism by which the professionals can work on the field all the year round. A tourism based on wolves has already been successfully experimented in Spain and Italy.

In France, however, the wolf policy is managed under the pressure of the so-called defenders of sheep-farming, who say that the presence of wolves is incompatible with this activity, in spite of what is happening in other countries where wolves are even more numerous (in Italy 1000 to 1500 and in Spain 2500) and where they coexist with sheep and cattle.

During COP 21 they said the France wants to show an exemplary conduct, but now they are sacrificing the biodiversity for the sake of the farm unions and of the hunters. The wolves are paying a high price to a short term election expectation. But does the present government want to keep on acting in opposition to the scientific communities, the naturalists and the animals defenders before next election? Can government people keep on thinking that the minority of farmers that act against the law (robberies, restraints, threats, etc.) will show them gratitude to stay unpunished forever? Haven’t they heard the hunters federations saying that they are going to “field” their candidates against the present government?

In France wolves are a vulnerable species, their population is decreasing (an approximate average of 280 wolves at the beginning of 2015, against the 301 at the beginning of 2014). More than the half of the area where they live presents a low density and, sometimes, only some isolated individuals. There is only one reproductive nucleus in the French Alps and this is not normal, since these animals returned more than 20 years ago. Moreover there isn’t any effort to increase the number of reproductive packs. For all these reasons we can say that the present situation is not favorable to the wolves conservation and that the permission of hunting an increased number of wolves is not in line with the European rules.

In order to denounce these facts, more than 30 associations and groups of naturalists and animalists will march on 16th January in Lyons, at Place Bellecour, and will go to the prefecture of the region where the “wolf file” is managed by the administration of the regional department.

By the way, the petition launched by the group CAP- Loup pour le loup has gained more than 105.000 signatures.

The participating associations: Asbl Wolf Eyes, Action Nature, Alepe, Alliance avec les loups, Animal Cross, Aspas, Aves France, CALI, CAP Loup (collectif), Collectif du 21 septembre, Convention Vie et Nature, CRAC Europe, Dignité Animale, Emys conservation, FERUS, FNE, FRAPNA, GEML, LPO, Mille Traces, Oiseaux Nature, One Voice, Peuple Loup, Point info loup/lynx, Sauvegarde Faune Sauvage, Sauvons nos loups alpins, Sea Shepherd, SFEPM, SNPN, Sur les traces du loup, UFCS, WWF.”