The Netherlands will not support proposals to downgrade the protected status of the wolf in the international Bern Convention. Nature minister Van der Wal (VVD) first wants to await the advice she has asked the Council for Animal Affairs (RDA) about 'the dilemmas that play a role in a small country where wolves, humans and domestic animals live close together'.
In a letter to the House of Representatives, Van der Wal points out that non-EU member state Switzerland will submit a proposal to the Permanent Committee of the Bern Habitat Treaty to lower the protected status of the wolf by one category. The wolf should be moved from Appendix 2 (strictly protected animal species) to Appendix 3 (protected animal species - regulation possible).
The densely forested EU countries Finland and Sweden are the only member states known to support the Swiss proposal. Austria will abstain from the vote because it recently introduced its own regulation, within the current rules, allowing shooting permits for 'problem wolves' to be issued. The European Parliament recently urged the EU countries to inform their provinces and regions of this already existing possibility.
The minister calls it 'a positive signal about nature in the Netherlands, which apparently attracts the wolf. However, I am aware that this is not experienced by many people and that there is fear among animal keepers and residents about the presence of an increasing number of wolves in the Netherlands”.
Minister Van der Wal says that regardless of the Dutch position, the European Union will maintain its position on the Habitats Directive and the protected status of the wold. “I do not think it is wise to change the position of the Netherlands within the EU now, in anticipation of the social dialogue that the RDA will organize and the advice that the RDA will issue. Hence the choice – among other things – to conduct the discussion about protected status in a careful manner,” said the minister.
If the RDA advice shows that a reconsideration of the Dutch position is justified, the minister will revert to this. Earlier last week she already announced that she expects that the new interprovincial wolf plan that is being prepared will be finalized in the coming six months.
Van der Wal also wants to look 'on a larger scale' at a broader European approach to the wolf population. Therefore, the German authorities have already been contacted, and further cooperation with Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark is possible.