ECJ upholds ban on wolf hunting

“An exception to this ban to avoid economic damage can only be granted if the wolf population is in a favorable conservation status, which is not the case in Austria,” it says.

Animal protection organizations complained after the Tyrolean state government issued a decision to shoot the wolf in 2022. The Tyrolean State Administrative Court (LVwG) asked the ECJ for an interpretation of EU law on the issue.

Austria agreed to protectorate status when it joined the EU

Judges in Luxembourg had to answer the question of whether the exemption of wolves from the strict protection regime of the Flora-Fauna-Habitat (FFH) Directive in some European countries is inconsistent with the principle of equality. Austria No, Answer: When Austria joined the European Union in 1995, unlike other countries, Austria did not register any reservations regarding a high level of protection for wolves.

Considering Tyrol, Austria and the cross-border distribution area, it is only possible to release a wolf for shooting, even under the current legal situation, if the wolf population is well protected and poaching does not pose a danger. In addition, other solutions such as alpine grazing conservation measures should also be considered before shooting.

Langer-Weninger: “Procedure according to Judgment”

Regional councilor Mikaela Langer-Weninger (ÖVP) said: “There is no planned wolf hunt in Upper Austria, and according to the current ECJ ruling, a favorable conservation status is required in Upper Austria.” And in line with the most recent ECJ ruling.” The Wolf Management Regulation addresses cases where action is required to combat dangerous and harmful wolves, he said.

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The Tyrolean state government, consisting of the ÖVP and the SPÖ, was silent on the decision. No immediate effects were observed either there or in Carinthia. In Salzburg, too, the earlier practice of firing sticks. ÖVP Agriculture Minister Norbert Totchnik is also on Wolff’s line. Environment Minister Leonor Küssler (Greens) hopes the ruling will make the debate more objective – more about this The ECJ clarifies: wolf hunting is prohibited And Wolf shooting must stop.

The farmers’ association affirms the central states’ approach to wolf management with the ruling and said that “the ECJ has now confirmed that the procedure for removing problem wolves is correct”.

Legal experts disagreed with the states

Legal experts see things differently and believe that today’s ruling means that wolves cannot be hunted in Austria. Otherwise, Austria could face infringement proceedings, says Franz Leidenmühler, head of the Institute for European Law at JKU Linz, in an APA interview. In the “Tiroler Tageszeitung” the European legal expert Walter Obwecker expressed similar views.

Criticism of the ruling came from FPÖ MEP Roman Haider. “In particular, the mention of more delicate measures such as the protection of alpine pastures demonstrates that the judges know nothing about the conditions of the alpine landscape,” he writes in a broadcast. He calls for the protection status of wolves to be lowered. “Only if the strict protection status of wolves is relaxed can there be a prosperous coexistence between humans, grazing animals and wolves on all sides,” says Haider.

Opponents are happy with the verdict

Opponents of wolf culling, including WWF Austria and Okoburo, are leading a legal dispute in Austria. “The wolf has come to stay. The sooner federal and state governments invest in protecting alpine grazing animals, the sooner agriculture can adapt to new conditions,” said Lucas Ende of the Nature Conservancy.

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Animal protection organization VGT has since called on “all state councils that have passed wolf shooting regulations to immediately stop breaking the law and stop illegal killing”.

Six wolf removals already this year

According to the “Austrian Center for Bear-Wolf-Luchs”, six wolves have been culled so far this year, four of them in Carinthia and one each in Tyrol and Salzburg. 14 wolves were removed the previous year.

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