By the end of next month the Italian Government should approve the Piano di conservazione e gestione del lupo in Italia”[ Plan of conservation and management of the wolf in Italy. This plan, in spite of the hypocrisy of its title, provides some alarming exceptions to the ban on hunting the wolves in Italy. I’ve just signed a WWF petition to ask the Italian Minister for the Protection of the Environment to reject any alteration to this law in favor of a possible “removal” of the wolves from their natural habitat.
This is my translation of the text that everyone can read on the petition page of the Italian WWF (http://www.wwf.it/lupo/soslupo/ Click HERE to sign the Italian petition
WODCW writer in Turin, Italy
Translated from Italian to English:
“National and international laws protect particularly the wolves as they are a species that was cruelly persecuted and decimated by men in the past. They are slowly regaining their space now, but they are not yet out of danger on our territories because of some persistent threats such as the cross-breeding with dogs, the poaching, the collision with vehicles and some illnesses like the distemper.
The draft of the “Plan of conservation and management of the wolf in Italy” provides for some derogations from the prohibition to remove wolves from their natural habitat and for the possibility of licensing the legal killing of 5% of the Italian estimated wolf population.
If the current version of the plan is approved, 60 wolves could be legally killed every year, in a context where hundreds of wolves are already killed by poachers using rifles, poison baits or traps. Poachers kill at least 300 wolves every year. If we add the wolves killed accidentally by vehicles, in Italy human beings cause an estimated mortality rate between the 15 – 20 % of the wolves population. The estimated Italian population is about 1200/1500 wolves, including those living in the Apennines and in the Alps.”
Of course a great debate has been taking place on the internet between those who are for and those who are against this plan and its contents. Among several of those in favor of wolves are scientists. There is a detailed and interesting study on the reasons why killing wolves doesn’t reduce the conflict with the livestock breeders, or the poaching. It’s included in a document titled “Discrediting seven prejudices against wolves” by the WWFALPI, the European Alps Program of WWF to defend the wolf. The national WWF organizations of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and Italy are part of this program and their objective is to collaborate all together in order to preserve the animal and floral biodiversity of the Alpine region. I sette pregiudizi sul lupo da sfatare
Here is my translation of an abstract:
“Why killing wolves doesn’t reduce either the conflict with the livestock breeders, or the poaching.
A lot of politicians, and some environmentalist too, argue that giving an incentive to livestock producers because they don’t want wolves in their territories could reduce the conflict and prevent poaching. Unfortunately it’s not true, as any psychologist would be able to explain. When the authority downgrades a species from “particularly protected” to “possibly hunted” as it is considered harmful, it gets a negative connotation. Therefore, the public opinion assumes automatically the wrong belief that this species is dangerous. And the conflict rises more.
Killing a quota of wolves is ethically questionable, but, most of all, it’s scientifically useless. Making some selected killings (the difficulty of a real and serious selection apart), doesn’t help to reduce the damages. This is confirmed by the clear data of several Italian and foreign studies.
There is a basic ethological reason. The pack is a hierarchical and organized group that hunts successfully when every member cooperates and there is a skilled alpha couple that leads the pack. So they are able to hunt wild animals, preferably ungulates. Selected killings of wolves often destructures the pack, especially when the alpha male, or female, is killed, but this is not the only bad result.
When the pack scatters, the wolves become lone individuals; they are often young and without experience, without a leader, they prefer to hunt an easier prey, such as sheep, even if it represents a greater risk. A lot of researches demonstrate that the damages to the livestock even increase after the so-called selected killings of wolves.”
Why do wolves eat livestock? Click HERE for the link
This is the English abstract of an article issued by Researchgate.net, written by a team of researchers and scientists coming from several professional fields:
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’Ambiente, Università di Pavia
Laboratorio di Genetica, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA),
Parco dell’Antola, La Torriglietta, Genove
Department of Environmental Engineering, Aalborg University, Denmark.
It explains what Italian wolves usually eat and why they sometimes hunt and eat livestock
“Thanks to protection by law and increasing habitat restoration, wolves (Canis lupus) are currently re-colonizing Europe from the surviving populations of Russia, the Balkan countries, Spain and Italy, raising the need to update conservation strategies. A major conservation issue is to restore connections and gene flow among fragmented populations, thus contrasting the deleterious consequences of isolation. Wolves in Italy are expanding from the Apennines towards the Alps, crossing the Ligurian Mountains (northern Italy) and establishing connections with the Dinaric populations. Wolf expansion is threatened by poaching and incidental killings, mainly due to livestock depredations and conflicts with shepherds, which could limit the establishment of stable populations. Aiming to find out the factors affecting the use of livestock by wolves, in this study we determined the composition of wolf diet in Liguria. We examined 1457 scats collected from 2008 to 2013. Individual scats were geno-typed using a non-invasive genetic procedure, and their content was determined using microscopical analyses. Wolves in Liguria consumed mainly wild ungulates (64.4%; in particular wild boar Sus scrofa and roe deer Capreolus capreolus) and, to a lesser extent, livestock (26.3%; in particular goats Capra hircus). We modeled the consumption of livestock using environmental features, wild ungulate community diversity, husbandry characteristics and wolf social organization (stable packs or dispersing individuals). Wolf diet varied according to years and seasons with an overall decrease of livestock and an increase of wild ungulate consumption, but also between packs and dispersing individuals with greater livestock consumption for the latter. The presence of stable packs, instead of dispersing wolves, the adoption of prevention measures on pastures, roe deer abundance, and the percentage of deciduous woods, reduced predation on livestock. Thus, we suggest promoting wild ungulate expansion, the use of prevention tools in pastures, and supporting wolf pack establishment, avoiding lethal control and poaching, to mitigate conflicts between wolf conservation and husbandry.”
Featured image from: WWF (http://www.wwf.it/lupo/soslupo/
About Brunella Pernigotti:
Brunella Pernigotti lives in Turin, Italy. She is a teacher, a writer and a photographer. She published a novel and a book of tales and has to her credit about ten one-man exhibitions of photos. She is member of the board of a non-profit association of Turin, “Tribù del Badnightcafè”, that organizes cultural and artistic events.
View posts by Brunella Pernigotti: An interview with the filmmakers of the Italian documentary ‘Stories of Men and Wolves’ and also On the trail of the Italian wolf