A farmers’ organization is calling for a change in the laws on hunting wolves after a rise in the number of farm animals killed by predators. Farmers currently face prison for killing the protected animals.
The German Farmers’ Federation (BFB) has called for the laws protecting wolves to be relaxed — allowing livestock holders to shoot the animals in the wild.
The demand comes after a sharp rise in the number of attacks on farm animals, mostly sheep, in the past year.
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BFB President Joachim Rukwied told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper that alternative measures to protect animals were ineffective.
“The answer cannot be an arms race in protecting herds with ever-higher fences. Instead, it must be active and consistent management of the wolf population.
The number of wolf packs in the wild in Germany has been on the rise, increasing from 77 to 105 in the past year. There are also some 25 wolf pairs and 13 lone hunters.
The number of attacks on livestock has also shown a marked rise — from 1,667 to 2,067 — in just 12 months.Watch video04:04
The return of the wolves to Germany
Spread from east to west
In the German state of Lower Saxony, authorities have given permission for one “problem wolf” — said to be responsible for multiple killings of farm animals — to be shot. A bill allowing such killings was passed earlier this year by the German government.
The problem is particularly bad in Lower Saxony, where almost 500 animals were killed by wolves in the last year — the majority being livestock.
The states of Brandenburg and Saxony, on Germany’s eastern border with Poland, also reported high numbers of wolf attacks, with 400 farm animals killed in total.
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Germany: Wolf population has grown fast
Wolves had been extinct in Germany for some 150 years, making a comeback at the turn of the millennium after crossing the border from Poland.
While environmentalists have celebrated the return of the wolf — which holds high importance in German folklore and the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm — farmers are less enthused.
After establishing a foothold in the region of Lusatia, which straddles Brandenburg and Saxony, wolves have spread across the entire country. Lone territorial wolves have been identified in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein.
- THE WOLF IN MYTHS AND FAIRY TALESWho’s afraid of the big bad wolf?Wolves have returned to Germany. And they polarize society: Some people would rather shoot them, others want to keep them safe at any cost. How we see wolves is influenced by literature and art — where the “big bad wolf” has frightened people for many centuries.