Wolves are set to become fair game in Switzerland

Three wolves in a forest
© Wolf Steiger

Swiss Parliament instructs the government to soften the Treaty of Bern

EuroNatur: This is a fatal signal for the protection of species in Europe

Press Release from October 6, 2010

Radolfzell.    On September 30, the National Council of Switzerland has agreed by the majority on an approach to relax the law for the protection of wolves in Switzerland, asking the government to bring about an amendment of the Treaty of Bern, whereby the hunting of wolves in Switzerland is to be decontrolled within the scope of the treaty. Should the National Council fail with its approach, it recommends Switzerland to opt out of the international treaty.
"This does not only mean an imminent risk for the wolves in Switzerland, but through this decision the protection of species is questioned as a whole", declares Annette Spangenberg, project leader of the European Nature Heritage Fund EuroNatur. "What chances are left for big mammals in Europe, if a country such as Switzerland, which is crossed by bears, lynxes and wolves, takes decisions of that kind?"

After becoming nearly extinct in Switzerland in the 19th century, single wolves have been crossing the Italian border into Swiss territory time and again; their current number is estimated between 15 and 20. Until now, wolves have enjoyed a special protection across Europe after the Treaty of Bern, which was also ratified by the Swiss Government back in 1982.  The aim of this international treaty is to preserve wild animals and plants and their habitat with a long lasting effect. The wolf is listed in the treaty as a strictly protected species that may not be hunted. Following the will of the Swiss National Council, this shall change soon. "Switzerland has often led the way in nature protection. This amendment is therefore a fatal signal for other countries such as Poland, Bulgaria or Croatia", warns EuroNatur's director Gabriel Schwaderer. "It took us years of hard work to bring different lobby groups together at one table and to find solutions for the protection of the wolf that were acceptable for all parties. By relaxing the restriction, the Swiss government would give a negative example which might be followed by other countries."

EuroNatur has been promoting the protection of wolves in Europe for many years, closely cooperating with local partners and the local people. "Implementing conservation projects always implies to communicate with the people and to find joint solutions that are acceptable for all those concerned. The decision of the Swiss National Council, however, is a harsh setback for nature conservation", complains Schwaderer.

For questions and interview partners please contact:
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Phone: 07732 - 92 72 24
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PR contact: Angie RotherContact person: Annette Spangenberg

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