Supposed to represent a “turning point” towards a “better balance” between protection of herds and conservation of this threatened species, the new “wolf plan” for 2024-2029 must replace a previous plan expiring at the end of the year. As a reminder, the wolf, after having disappeared for a time in France, reappeared at the beginning of the 1990s by crossing the Alps from Italy, and its ranks gradually grew, to the great dismay of breeders who deplored more than 12,000 animals attacked in 2022.
The presentation of the new plan by the prefecture of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to the members of the National Wolf Group (GNL), a consultative body bringing together representatives of the agricultural world, elected officials, shepherds, hunters, protected areas, administrations and conservation associations. nature, took place behind closed doors in Lyon, this Monday, in a tense climate. The plan, which is very technical and some elements of which remain to be finalized, notably provides for a prevention and management component of attacks with improved support for breeders. Four points emerge.
1. Night vision: the possibility is now given to breeders to use night vision equipment to spot the animal without having to “illuminate” it before shooting, as was required until now.
2. New counting: this plan provides for an overhaul of the current wolf “counting” system – in reality an estimate established by the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) based on indices (tracks, howls, genetic analyses, etc.) – , judged “very efficient but difficult to understand”. A new system will have to be developed with the aim of publishing “only one figure per year”, compared to two currently.
3. Status of dogs. Work is underway on the status of protection dogs stationed in mountain pastures.
4. Adaptation of the status of the wolf. The number of Canis lupus roaming the territory was estimated at the beginning of September at 1,104 individuals. Up to 209 wolves can be killed in France this year, the authorized quota of 19%. If the wolf remains strictly protected in France at this stage, the new plan “will study the viability of the wolf beyond French territory in order to consider adapting the status of the species at European level on the scientific basis of its state of conservation “.
An “unacceptable” plan for environmental defense associations
For the six environmental defense associations – France Nature Environnement (FNE), Ferus, Humanity and Diversity, the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (Aspas) and the Global Fund for Nature (WWF)-, the plan is quite simply “unacceptable”.
“We have announced our definitive withdrawal from the National Wolf Group,” indicates Jean-David Abel, representative of the FNE, on behalf of this collective. “This consultative body no longer has any meaning. It is not new that the State listens to (the agricultural unions) FNSEA, FNO (National Sheep Federation, Editor’s note) and the chambers of agriculture, but at this level of imbalance, we said to ourselves “we are serving to nothing” so the State must take responsibility for that”. “Their departure is regrettable. The door remains open and contacts will continue. The consultation process will continue,” responded the prefecture when contacted by AFP.
“Yawning gap between these announcements and expectations and needs”, estimates the Peasant Confederation
On the breeders’ side, although they are supposed to be the main beneficiaries of this “rebalancing”, the reactions are hardly more enthusiastic. The plan, which is due to come into force on January 1, “endorses the status quo and the distress of breeders for the next 5 years”, protests the Confédération paysanne, for whom the “gap is yawning between these announcements and the expectations and needs of breeders in the face of predation.
“The State is trying to keep things simple and it only creates dissatisfied people,” said Claude Font, secretary general of the FNO in charge of the predation issue. “We expected something more ambitious in favor of breeding,” he underlined, believing that “the only progress concerns the shooting protocols”.
letelegramme Fr Trans