Congress ratifies wolf hunting ban

JJ GUILLEN

The Government, with the support of the left, will reject tonight the attempt to go back by the PP, which wanted to withdraw the status of a protected species north of the Duero from the wild canid

Alfonso Torres

Wolf hunting will continue to be prohibited in Spain. The plenary session of Congress will reject tonight the PP's attempt to overturn the order issued nine months ago by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, which turned this native wild canine into a protected species throughout the Iberian Peninsula and, therefore, into a piece forbidden to the point of sight of the rifle of any hunter or forest agent.

The vote will reflect the division, the edges and the conflicting interests in this controversial measure. The repeal, backed by PP, Vox, Foro Asturias and the Regionalist Party of Cantabria, will be defeated with the 'noes' of the two government parties, the small left-wing formations and Esquerra, and will have the abstention of Ciudadanos, EH Bildu and the PNV (does not accept a solution or a state law).

In the position of both sides of the hemicycle, the two opposing views on this matter were once again underlying. That of the traditional shepherds and ranchers, who see the wolf as nothing more than a vermin, and that of the naturalists, who describe a native animal at risk of extinction.

The Parliament, with its decision, the same one that the five main Spanish environmental organizations demanded, shields the current status of the wolf against the attempt to return to the selective raids defended by the conservatives, the main livestock organizations and the executives of Castilla y León, Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria, the autonomies where the 300 herds that are estimated to be in freedom live, which, in fact, have challenged the ministerial order before the National Court.

The defeated popular proposal sought a return to legislation, the attempt that the ministerial order of September 20 had never existed. The return to the past would have meant that the Iberian predator would continue to be a protected species and not a hunting species in the territories south of the Duero, where wild canids are a mere curiosity, and, on the contrary, in the north of Castilla y León and in the Cantabrian regions, where the bulk of the 2,500 copies live, the wolves would cease to be untouchable and could be killed provided that the conditions set by each autonomy are met. What the popular text baptized as "management measures" would be authorized again.

Forty attacks a day

The PP justified the turn back in that the aid and compensation for the wolf attacks are insufficient to counteract its damage to cows, sheep, goats or horses and, above all, to prevent the pressure on the ranchers of León, Zamora, Palencia, Galicia, Asturias or Cantabria «jeopardize the future of their activity and the rural world». His calculation is that 40 cattle die a day from wolf bites (about 14,000 a year) and that, also every day, two farms close.

The initiative ended up in the bin, but its presentation had great political utility for the PP, which raised the banner of defending the rural world, which the extreme right is trying to openly dispute, as was shown in the march that toured the center of Madrid. In fact, the popular speaker, Milagros Marcos, assured that it was the voice of "those who cry and live with their hearts in their fists due to a whim of the social-communist government" and wondered "who do we have to protect, the wolf or the ranchers?" The Vox spokesman, however, also tried to scratch his share of prominence by throwing disqualification and speaking of a measure of "'ecolojetas' de salon" taken from the "office ignorance" of "Teresita la Roja" (referring to the minister ).

PSOE and United We Can agreed that it is a necessary measure, because the population of native predators has been stagnant for decades and disappearing in most of the country, and they accused the PP of using the wolf as a "smokescreen" to avoid having to enter that what is really destroying rural life and Spanish agricultural and livestock farms, which would not be the wild canid but the effects of climate change and unfair practices in the food chain.

More help than ever

They recalled that the ban on wolf hunting comes hand in hand with a national plan to prevent attacks and compensate for cattle losses that multiplies by 26 times the investment destined so far to facilitate coexistence between the predator and traditional ranchers. For the first time, the State will distribute 20 million euros in aid so that farms equip themselves with preventive and protection measures for livestock (mastiffs, modern fences, GPS monitoring, night collection pens) and another 20 million to compensate for damage caused by attacks of wolves to their flocks.

The Government will also allocate 664,000 euros to carry out an updated census of the wolf in Spain, with data on existing specimens, number of packs and location, which will allow the design of coexistence plans more adjusted to the reality of each area. The last valid count, from 2014, concluded that there were between 2,000 and 2,500 wolves in Spain, with 60% or more of the 297 packs concentrated in the lands of León, Palencia and Zamora, followed by Galicia, with 28% of predators. .

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