Arie Trouwborst and Floor Fleurke
As wolf populations continue to expand across the continent, public authorities face challenges in finding ways to accommodate the recovery of wolf populations with the need to foster coexistence and minimize conflicts with human interests. In particular, in many areas where wolves have returned or are increasing in numbers, this has led to a desire by parts of the (rural) public to introduce some form of regulated lethal control of wolves, through either culling by state employees or hunting conducted by rural hunters, and many European states have taken action to that end.12 Introducing such measures can be very controversial, and critics have tended to challenge their legality under the international wildlife conservation instruments that have nurtured wolf recovery, in particular the Bern Convention and Habitats Directive. Specific legal issues concern the killing of wolves to prevent economic damages, killing to ensure acceptance or tolerance of wolves, killing as part of a quota system, and how the killing of wolves relates to population size and conservation status. Without going into the complexities regarding the desirability and utility of lethal wolf management as such, in this article we aim to address these legal issues, and fundamentally seek to identify to what extent, and under what conditions, lethal wolf management can be conducted without violating the applicable European legal frameworks, in particular the Habitats Directive.13 Below, the overarching Bern Convention and the Habitats Directive are first introduced from a wolf conservation and management perspective, followed by specific analyses of the aforementioned legal issues.
Arie Trouwborst & Floor M. Fleurke (2019) Killing Wolves Legally: Exploring the Scope for Lethal Wolf Management under European Nature Conservation Law, Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, 22:3, 231-273,