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New poll shows EU citizens stand up for wolves

Date

18 Jun 2020

Sections

Climate & Environment

European citizens support protection for wolves, and the majority oppose the killing of wolves in any circumstances. This is the main outcome of an opinion poll among adults across six EU countries commissioned by Eurogroup for Animals. It’s time for politicians to listen to the voice of their electors and ensure that the species continues to be strictly protected.

Conducted by Savanta ComRes in six EU member states - France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Finland - the survey aimed to better understand public perceptions and attitudes towards wolf protection across Europe.

The 6,137 EU citizens who responded showed overall a high level of support for wolf protection, particularly in Poland, Spain and Italy, and a great level of awareness of the benefits of wolves to their local ecosystem. The majority of adults say that the killing of wolves is rarely or never acceptable in any tested circumstances, even when they have attacked farm animals (55%), or to control their population size (55%).

While the hunters’ community and some Member States have been calling for more flexibility in managing their wolf populations, the surveyed EU’s citizens disagree. Instead, 86% of respondents across the six surveyed countries agree that national governments and the EU should fund and equip farmers with the tools to protect farm animals from wolf attacks. 93% of adults agree that wolves have a right to exist in the wild. Similarly, 89% agree that wolves belong to our natural environment just like foxes, deer or hares, and 86% agree that wolves should be accepted to live in their respective countries.

At least three quarters of interviewed adults agree that farmers and people living in rural areas should coexist with wolves and other wild animals without harming them (78%). While 38% think that wolves pose arisk to people, only 39% say they would know how to behave if they were to encounter a wolf - so it’s clear that more needs to be done to educate today’s citizens about how to live alongside wolves again.

“This research unequivocally demonstrates that European citizens strongly support protection for wolves, and oppose their killing in any circumstances,” says Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals. “We hope EU institutions and Member States’ politicians will now work together to ensure that current protection levels are maintained while national and EU funding are made available to develop and provide farmers with innovative tools to protect farm animals from wolf attack and increase tolerance and social acceptability. In fact, the recently published EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 calls on Member States to commit to not deteriorate the conservation of protected species, like the wolf.”

The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, drafted as part of the EU Green Deal, also requests Member States to ensure that at least 30% of species and habitats not currently in favourable status are in that category or show a strong positive trend. Given the high public support for the conservation of wolves, Eurogroup for Animals encourages countries where the species is increasingly persecuted, like Finland, France and Germany, to listen to the opinion of their citizens and prioritise efforts to protect the species and prevent conflict with large carnivores like wolves and bears, as well increasing awareness on how to coexist with them peacefully and without risk.

Finally, we hope that the upcoming publication of the updated European Commission’s Guidance document on the strict protection of animal species of Community interest will provide more clarity to those Member States that are inappropriately using derogations to the EU Habitats Directive to lethally manage populations of wolves and other protected species.

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Eurogroup for Animals represents 70 animal advocacy organisations in 25 EU Member States, the UK, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the USA. Since its inception in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its membership organisations’ affiliations across the Union, and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal welfare. For more information, please visit www.eurogroupforanimals.org. Follow us on Twitter @Act4AnimalsEU and like us on Facebook.

Savanta ComRes conducted an online quantitative survey in which respondents were interviewed about their current views and understanding of wolf protection. We interviewed 6,137 adults in six European countries (France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and Finland) aged 18+ online between 11th and 17th February 2020. Data were weighted to be representative of adults aged 18+ by age, gender and region in each of the six countries.

While the combined results cannot guarantee to be representative of the EU as a whole, these countries were chosen with an aim that they would be a good representation of the range of countries within the European Union (EU) in terms of geography, political history and culture.

Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at www.comresglobal.com.

Eurogroup for Animals celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020. This is an opportunity for our 70 member organisations to look back at past achievements for animals in Europe and beyond and define our vision for the next forty years together. You can read more about this celebration on our website.

Contact:

Ilaria Di Silvestre, Wildlife Programme Leader i.disilvestre@eurogroupforanimals.org

+32 2 7400824

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