The hunting of the wolf , an animal persecuted for centuries and currently converted into one of the symbols of Iberian conservationism, will be definitively prohibited throughout the Spanish territory after the agreement reached this Thursday at the meeting of the State Commission for Natural Heritage and Biodiversity , a body in which the Government and the autonomous communities are represented.
The wolf is still hunted as a game species or through quotas in Castilla y León, Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia -communities that have expressed their disagreement with the agreement- and more rarely in La Rioja and the Basque Country.
“Today the wolf will howl, but not with grief,” the naturalist Luis Miguel Domínguez , director of television series and president of the Lobo Marley association , poetically synthesized . “Thank you to all who have fought for this victory.”
The effective protection of the wolf will be possible as it has been included, after a hectic meeting and a very close second vote – nine votes in favor and eight against, with three abstentions – in the List of Wild Species in the Special Protection Regime . In the communities located south of the Duero, the wolf is considered an endangered species and, therefore, its protection is already maximum.
Publication in the BOE
Although the commission is an advisory body of the Government, the result of the vote means in practice that its sport hunting will be prohibited and a conservation strategy will have to be drawn up. Now all that remains is for the promoter of the vote, the Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera , to stamp her signature on the order and it is published in the BOE.
The Minister of Development of Castilla y León, Juan Carlos Suárez-Quiñones , announced an “important battle” because prohibiting hunting “violates the interests of the ranchers.”
Without so much luck for the turtledove
In the same meeting, the turtledove did not have the same fate, a bird in clear demographic decline, which did not achieve the majority necessary to become a fully protected species. There was a tie and its conservation will have to be addressed in a new meeting. Spain could be fined by the European Commission if no action is taken in this regard.
2,000-2,500 copies in Spain
Theo Oberhuber , project spokesperson for Ecologists in Action, calls the day a “historic day.” Wolf hunting (of all kinds) has a crucial impact on the conservation of the species, he explains. Not only are up to 400 wolves killed annually (including illegal hunting), out of an estimated total population of 2,000-2,500, but this very often negatively affects herd dynamics.
Young specimens are usually killed. “Sometimes,” Oberhuber continues, “alpha males are also hunted, causing a dispersal of the remaining males and this ends up resulting in greater conflict with the ranchers.”
Ecologists in Action urges the autonomous communities north of the Duero to “as of today” stop authorizing hunting activity, pursue its illegal hunting “and collaborate with the ranchers in promoting the coexistence between the wolf and the livestock in order to to avoid or reduce attacks on livestock, with methods such as the use of mastiff dogs, greater surveillance of livestock or night collection of them “.
“Today is a historic day for the conservation of biodiversity in our country,” said the WWF Secretary General , Juan Carlos del Olmo . “We hope it is a first step to change to the current model based on the persecution and death of the wolf, to make way for a new one, more typical of the 21st century, focused on the conservation of the species and on coexistence with human activities.
He added, “After the initial steps taken by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and later with the approval of the European directives on nature, the formal recognition of the value of this species was lacking in our country.”
The Iberian wolf, which historically had covered a good part of the Spanish territory (and also Portugal), suffered a marked decline throughout the 20th century that reached its peak around 1970, “when it was thought that the species would become extinct because of the poisons and indiscriminate hunting, “explains Oberhuber.
“What the wolf is doing in recent years is to recolonize provinces that it had lost not so long ago, such as Ávila, Segovia or Salamanca.” The largest populations are currently concentrated in Asturias, León, Zamora, the Galician provinces and the mountains of Cantabria.
In Catalonia, sporadic sightings
In Catalonia, the wolf has returned in recent decades, but it has done so in a practically testimonial way, with some wandering specimen that crosses the Pyrenees from France and is sighted in Cerdanya, Ripollès or Berguedà, among other regions. They are of the Italian subspecies.