Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovakia has passed new legislation introducing a total ban on wolf hunting as of next month.
According to the new law, which brings the country in line with EU guidelines on the protection of animal species, wolf hunting will be illegal in Slovakia from June 1 this year.
Total wolf hunting ban introduced in Slovakia
In 2013, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Slovakia for failing to honour an EU directive on wildlife conservation and preservation.
Home to between 1,000 and 1,800 of the 12,000 wolves in Europe (excluding Russia) Slovakia later took preliminary action, banning wolf hunting in Natura 2000 sites, a network of nature protection areas across the EU. The Danube-Carpathian region, which includes Slovakia, is estimated to be home to approximately two-thirds of Europe’s populations of large carnivores, including wolves, brown bears and lynxes.
The new legislation passed this week introduces a total ban on wolf hunting on the entire Slovak territory, not just in protected areas.
Every year, an inter-ministerial group was in charge of setting the annual wolf culling quota (50 individuals in the 2020-2021 hunting season, up from 35 the previous year). As a result, nearly 1,800 wolves have been legally killed in Slovakia since 2000, according to animal protection organisations.
Preserving natural habitats
WWF Slovakia, in cooperation with more than 30 NGOs and associations, have for years spearheaded an awareness campaign and collected over 50,000 signatures for a petition, addressed to the Environment and Agriculture ministries, calling to end wolf hunting in the Central European country.
“Wolves, as top predators, play a vital role in keeping nature in balance,” said Jergus Tesak from WWF Slovakia. “If we really want to protect wolves, we must protect them along with their habitats and movement routes […] A healthy wolf population also has a positive impact on the landscape. It reduces the population of deer, prevents damage of young trees and supports restoration of natural forests. There is no reason for wolf hunting in our country.”
Wildlife protection organisations point out that, in addition to legal hunting and illegal poaching, the survival of wolves and other species is threatened by changes in their natural habitats brought about by their close proximity with humans and the construction of roads and other large-scale infrastructure.
Slovakia provides compensation to farmers who have suffered losses and damages from wolf attacks.