The European Court of Justice said in its preliminary ruling that there is no evidence that legal hunting of wolves or other protected species has a positive effect on that species’ conservation status. (Anni Reenpää – Lehtikuva)


THE POSITION TAKEN by the European Court of Justice on hunting as a tool to manage wolf populations is a setback for Finland, views Jari Leppä (Centre), the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

“The stricter-than-expected ruling on wolf hunting for population management purposes was a major setback,” he wrote on Facebook on Monday.

The European Court of Justice in October issued a preliminary ruling on the issue, setting a number of conditions on the hunting of wolves for population management purposes. It stipulated, for example, that the granting of derogation permits to hunt wolves must be based on rigorous and unambiguous scientific data.

Leppä on Monday stated that he believes hunting is a necessary element of the effort to manage the wolf population in Finland.

“The bear population continue to fear people as a result of regular hunting. This is also a way to prevent harm. We need to do the same when it comes to wolves,” he underlined.

The ruling dates back to a dispute over the grounds for granting derogation permits to hunt seven wolves in Northern Savonia, Finland, in 2016. The Finnish Wildlife Agency had argued that hunting for population management purposes can reduce poaching, a position that was challenged by the Association for Nature Conservation Tapiola and the European Commission.

“[T]here is no scientific evidence that the legal hunting of a protected species reduces poaching to an extent that it would have an overall positive effect on the conservation status of wolves,” ruled the European Court of Justice.

It also stated that, in this particular case, the existence of an illegal activity such as poaching or difficulties associated with its monitoring cannot be cited as grounds for exempting a member state of its obligation to ensure the protection of a species under the habitats directive.

The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation has welcomed the preliminary ruling, viewing that it should lead to stricter conditions for derogation hunting permits. Leena Iivonen, the chairperson of the Association for Nature Conservation Tapiola, has similarly voiced her satisfaction with the ruling.

“It strongly calls attention to the spirit and purpose of the directive and is in line with other comparable rulings by the European Court of Justice,” she was quoted as saying by YLE on 10 October.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi