Far-reaching judgment

The ban on wolf hunting in Austria is valid

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11.07.2024 10:34

The wolf may still not be hunted in Austria. This was the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Thursday.

"An exception to this ban to prevent economic damage can only be granted if the wolf population is in a favorable conservation status, which is not the case in Austria," reads the ECJ's letter.

Animal welfare organizations had lodged a complaint after the Tyrolean provincial government released a wolf for shooting by decision in 2022. The Tyrolean Provincial Administrative Court then asked the ECJ to interpret EU law on this issue.

Among other things, the judges in Luxembourg had to answer the question of whether it contradicts the principle of equality that wolves are exempt from the strict protection regime of the Flora-Fauna-Habitat Directive in some European countries, but not in Austria.

A wolf can only be released for shooting under the current legal situation if the wolf population is in a good conservation status and hunting does not endanger this - both with regard to Tyrol, Austria and the cross-border distribution area. (Bild: stock.adobe.com/DENNIS WACHTEL FOTOGRAFIE, stock.adobe.com)
A wolf can only be released for shooting under the current legal situation if the wolf population is in a good conservation status and hunting does not endanger this - both with regard to Tyrol, Austria and the cross-border distribution area.

The answer is no: unlike other countries, Austria did not express any reservations about the high protection status of wolves when it joined the European Union in 1995.

WWF delighted: "Herd protection comes first!"
 The environmental protection organizations WWF Austria and ÖKOBÜRO were delighted with the ruling. "This is an important clarification: In the case of strictly protected species such as the wolf, lesser means such as herd protection take precedence. Shooting must only be the last resort," says WWF species conservation expert Christian Pichler.

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Insofar as the Austrian government assumes that the Union legislator should have lifted the strict protection of wolves in the meantime as a result of the development of the wolf population in Austria, it is basically free to file an action for failure to act - which it has not done to date.

Die Argumentation der EuGH-Richter

The Tyrolean provincial government, made up of the ÖVP and SPÖ parties, was still relaxed on Wednesday. It was assumed that there would be "no immediate serious effects on current practice".

Tyrol: "Continue to remove harmful and high-risk wolves"
Following the ruling, an initial statement said: "The ECJ's decision has no direct impact on Tyrol, but unfortunately does not bring any relief either. The culling regulations have proven their worth and we will continue along this path. By applying a strict test standard, we can continue to remove harmful and high-risk wolves. Our regulations are case-by-case decisions based on sound legal foundations and expert opinions and take into account the special features of our alpine pasture economy," says Deputy Governor Josef Geisler (ÖVP).

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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