Wolves are a protected species because they are in danger of extinction. / J.J. Guillén

Wolf hunting will continue to be banned in Spain

Parliament has rejected an attempt by the Partido Popular and farming organisations to overturn the regulations which came into force last September

ALFONSO TORICES Madrid

Wolf hunting will continue to be banned in Spain. On Tuesday parliament rejected an attempt by the Partido Popular to reverse the order from the Ministry of Ecological Transition nine months ago, which made wolves a protected species throughout the Iberian peninsula.

The measure proved divisive and has highlighted conflicting interests over the issue. Farmers and shepherds see wolves as a pest, while naturalists are keen to protect these animals because they are a native species in danger of extinction.

Parliament’s decision to maintain the ban will protect wolves from the selective culling which is defended by the main farming organisations and politicians in Castilla y León, Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria, the regions in which 300 packs are estimated to live freely, who also went to court to try to overturn the ban.

The proposal put forward by the PP wanted to pretend the ministerial order of 20 September had never existed, and return to the previous situation where wolves were protected and could not be hunted in areas south of the Duero, where their numbers are not high, but could be targeted by hunters in the north of Castilla y León and Cantabria, where they number around 2,500, as long as they complied with the regulations in each region.

Livelihoods of farmers at risk

Part of the PP’s argument was that the financial aid and compensation for attacks by wolves are insufficient to make up for the damage caused to cows, sheep, goats and horses, and that the ban would put the livelihoods of farmers at risk. They calculate that 40 cattle die every day after being attacked by wolves, which is about 14,000 a year.

Nevertheless, the other parties agreed that the ban is necessary because the wolf population has been stagnant for decades and the species is in danger of dying out in much of the country. They also insisted that climate change and unfair practices in the food chain are to blame for the damage to rural life, rather than the behaviour of wolves.