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Wolf in the Wildlife Park: More and more representatives of the strictly protected species live in Germany

Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa

In the future, it will be possible to kill problematic wolves that have overcome protective fences and killed livestock faster than before. This was agreed by the environment ministers of the federal and state governments at their two-day meeting in Münster, Westphalia. "We have achieved a breakthrough," said North Rhine-Westphalia's Environment Minister Oliver Krischer (Greens) on Friday as chairman of the conference at its conclusion.

The federal states are to determine certain regions with increased wolf attacks. If a wolf has overcome a protective fence and killed a farm animal, wolves within a radius of 21 meters may be shot for 1000 days. DNA detection is then no longer necessary.

Livestock protection is crucial for the coexistence of grazing livestock and wolves with as little conflict as possible, said Krischer. "In addition, however, we need a more practical and legally secure procedure nationwide to remove individual wolves with behavioural problems."

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) had already presented the proposals that have now been adopted in October. They are compatible with EU law, Lemke said in Münster on Friday. The action against problematic wolves is also a sign of reconciliation in order to pacify the social conflict.

No wolf attacks on humans in Germany

The shooting of conspicuous wolves is already possible under strict conditions. Since 2017, twelve animals have already been killed with official approval. Livestock farmers and farmers had called for more far-reaching measures.

The number of wolf attacks on livestock has risen significantly in the past year to more than 1000 cases. More than 4000,<> farm animals were killed or injured in the process, according to an investigation. The federal government emphasizes livestock protection measures such as fences and livestock guard dogs as the most efficient measure for the protection of livestock. The environmental association BUND is calling for minimum standards for this.

Since the wolf's return to Germany more than 20 years ago, there have been no wolf attacks on humans, according to the Federal Environment Ministry. This is also in line with data from researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). As the scientists reported in a study in 2021, there was evidence of 12 attacks in Europe – but not in Germany – and North America, two of which – in North America – were fatal. And this over a period of 18 years. According to the researchers, attacks on humans can be traced back to three main causes: rabies, provocation and food conditioning.