Wolf Cull Plan Sparks Outrage in Italy
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Opponents of a move to kill 5 percent of the country’s wolves argue that there are more effective ways to protect livestock.
Italy was set Thursday to give an initial green-light to a plan to cull five percent of its wolves in a move that has sparked a national outcry.
The measure is set to be adopted at a Rome conference of state and regional representatives but will still have to be approved by parliament, and has met fierce resistance among environmentalists and animal lovers.
The Canis lupus italicus, known for its pelt which reddens in summer, has been a protected species since 1971. There are believed to be some 1,600 of them living in the mountainous regions of the Appenines and up to 150 in the Alps.
But opponents of the plan insist the lack of a recent population census means the numbers may be way off — the Apennine estimates range from between 1,070 and 2,472 — and therefore it is impossible to aim to cull five percent of them.
They also say other measures to protect lifestock would be far more effective. Moreover, there are no statistics on the damage the noble predators cause — with bears stories often stealing the limelight in the Italian press.
The wolf was once venerated here: fable has it a she-wolf suckled the twins Romulus and Remus, before the former went on to found Rome on the banks of the Tiber river, and the lupus is the city’s symbol.
But farmers today have little patience for these sleek hunters.
Stefano Masini, head of the environment arm of Italy’s agricultural association Coldiretti, says the situation has worsened in recent years.
The number of wolves is rising sharply “and attacks on cattle multiply, now even in daylight”, he told AFP.
The new plan envisages 22 measures ranging from conducting a fresh census, to installing electric fences to protect livestock, speeding up compensation payouts for farmers who have lost animals, and tackling crossbreeading between dogs and wolves.
In general the ideas have been well-received — all except one: the controversial culling quota, which could see 85 animals killed a year.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has cried “SOS Wolf” on social networks, circulated petitions and organised a protest at the conference.
Nearly 140 activists from the EcoRadicali environmentalist group held a two-day hunger strike against the project ahead of the Rome meet.
“Shooting wolves (…) does not solve anything,” the WWF said, especially as prevention techniques like electric fences or guard dogs have already proved effective where used.
EcoRadicali’s Fabrizio Cianci said 300 wolves are killed by poachers every year in Italy, and slammed the cull quota as merely a way to legalise part of that figure and make the lives of lazy law enforcers easier.
Faced with the backlash, officials from some regions little affected by wolves — such as Lazio or Puglia — have disassociated themselves from the plan. Piedmont, where attacks on livestock are on the rise, has called for further study.
The government says studies show it is lone wolves who go after sheep, rather than those who live, move and hunt as a pack. It says targeting such animals would protect packs from gratuitous and unfounded attacks by irate farmers.
Masini from Coldiretti attempted to reassure animal lovers, saying that “if the other 21 measures are applied correctly, with the necessary financial resources, there will be no need to carry out the slightest cull”.
But should this wild creature be under the gun at all?
Farmers and environmentalists agree on one key point: the real danger does not lie with wolves, but with Canis lupus familiaris — ownerless or abandoned dogs, left to roam free in spite of various laws brought in to tackle the problem.
“Far more numerous than wolves, stray dogs compete with them for resources, (and) pose a serious health hazard and risk of cross-breeding,” the plan says.
It may be dogs that sink fangs into sheep or goats, but it is their elegant and usually shy cousins who pay the price: “the damage they cause to lifestock (is) wrongly attributed to wolves,” it said.
Happy New Year and Best Wishes from all at Wolf Watch UK.
Thank you so much for your continued support, kind donations and our valued members in helping towards the care and upkeep of the wolves this past year. We look forwards to welcoming friends both old and new in 2017. We have some exciting news on the horizon so keep checking back for updates…
Tony and The Team.
A heartfelt Thank You to all our supporters and members.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for 2017.
On behalf of Tony and the wolves we would just like to say a big Thank You for the kind words and support that we have received after the airing of ITV’s Countrywise earlier this evening.
For those of you who missed it here is the link:
Last Saturday Paradise Wildlife Park hosted a Wolf Evening where our director Tony Haighway was asked to be a guest speaker along with Caroline Elliott of The Anglian Wolf Society.
The aim of the evening was to help raise public awareness of the plight that wolves face, news of current conservation projects and an update about Anja the wolf that was re-homed at Wolf Watch from Paradise Wildlife Park last year for her own welfare, due to her being involved in dominance fights with her siblings, Inge and Romulus.
In an unexpected announcement Wolf Watch was presented with a cheque for £1000 towards the ongoing construction costs of Anjas new 5 acre enclosure.
We are tremendously grateful to Lynn, Pia, all the staff and trustees at Paradise Wildlife Park for your on going support and generosity. Thank You!
As some of you might be aware our beloved old lady Madadh is receiving treatment for cancer, which was diagnosed last year.
Learn more about Zoopharmacognosy Treatment in this video.
Anneka Svenska, conservationist, wildlife presenter and founder of Green World TV visited Wolf Watch last week along with Dr Isla Fishburn of Kachina Canine Communication to film an episode focusing on Zoopharmacognosy and it’s uses for natural healing.
We will let you know when editing has finished and the episode is ready to be aired. In the meantime Anneka has written a short piece for her Green World blog.
Please visit our Facebook Page to experience the Wolf Watch Valley in our first 360 degree photograph.
A interesting piece by National Geographic and photographer Ronan Donovan. Hear him describe the challenge of photographing one of Yellowstone National Park’s most elusive and iconic species: wolves!
Earlier this month Wolf Watch UK welcomed back one of our long standing supporters Tom Williams, when he visited The Centre to introduce his guest and new membership recruit Jan Jones to his adopted wolf Pepe, and the rest of the Wolf Watch pack. Tom has been a member for almost 7 years and received his first Wolf Adoption as a Christmas present from his parents. “At the time I thought it was just a wrapped up and framed photo of a wolf, little did I know that it was an adoption, and still is my favourite recurring Christmas present.”
This was Tom’s introduction to wolves and little did he know at the time that it would become one of his lifetime passions. “The wolf that was adopted for me was Pepe, and through photos and visits my level of respect for him only grew, for me he represented the natural world, an animal to be truly respected and simply admired. Every year I always readopt Pepe simply because he will always be my Alpha. But I have come close to adopting Maddy because of how beautiful she is to me, and so adopted her for my friend and colleague Jan, whom I shared my last wolf visit with.”
Since then Tom has been devoted supporter of Pepe, our male Timber Wolf by renewing his membership and visiting him several times, but Toms enthusiasm hasn’t stopped there and has taken on an even more permanent form. In tribute to his love of Pepe and the Wolf Watch wolves, Tom has pushed the barriers of pain aside and had a tattoo on his arm as a tribute to both Pepe and Madadh. “I was inspired to have the tattoos after a visit to the sanctuary a few years back now, it had been my third visit to see the wolves I believe. By this point I had already completely fallen in love with all of them, but I was truly in awe of Pepe who had been my adopted wolf since the beginning, and so he had to be there, and Maddy was chosen for the second part because for me she truly made the experience personal and magical!”
Tom was in the tattoo parlour for about two and a half to three hours, and it was his first tattoo. “My tattoo artist, a man by the name of Lee Piercy, actually commented saying it was a large tattoo for a first timer,” but he loved the idea and story behind it. Maybe in the future I might even add in other members of the Wolf Watch pack, as they truly brighten up my world every time I visit, I’m also considering adding a scenic background.”
We would like to express our admiration and personally thank Tom for his continued support and dedication to the Wolf Watch pack.
Work has begun on creating a new observation point. We are planning on siting a cabin on an elevated platform overlooking the pond and what will be Anja’s new enclosure. Hopefully this space will become useful as a classroom for educational visits and provide a new all weather vantage point for visiting members and our Photography and Art Day’s.
The pond attracts a large variety of wild visitors from kingfishers, herons and even the occasional otter in the past. Not to mention our resident deer, they love to wade into the centre and reach the tasty flowering plants that the rabbits and hares can’t get to. Think they will be a little disappointed when Anja moves in!
We would welcome any donations towards the funding of this project. Any contributors will be gratefully acknowledged. Please use the donate button or contact us directly.
We were privileged enough to see one of our wolves create a new den recently, here is Madadh enjoying her den.
We got up close and personal with Madadh when she was patrolling the hillside
Yesterday we had a fantastic day filming for an episode of #countrywise staring the brilliant biologist and TV presenter Liz Bonnin! Kgosi took particular interest in some expensive cameras and rigs! Its to be aired sometime in September
We spotted this beautiful red fox at Wolf Watch this week.