9 Nov, 2007 @ 09:39
2 mins read

A tale of two species


Spain’s government has contrasting opinions on the soaring numbers of Iberian wolf and lynx

AS Madrid moves to reclassify the endangered status of the Iberian lynx, the Ministry of the Environment has given its consent to a cull that could lead to the extinction of the peninsula’s native wolf.

And the Olive Press can reveal that although the Iberian wolf has been granted “strict protection” status by the European Union (EU), Brussels is expected to back the move.

This comes after numbers of the animal rose from 200 in 1970 to almost 3,000 in 2006 – and a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on livestock.

In the region of Castilla y León alone, the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) is thought to be responsible for the death of 2,000 sheep and 20 cows every year.

Under the agreement between the EU and Spain, the hunting of the animal south of the Douro – a 900-kilometre river spanning the north of the peninsula – will be legalised following years of campaigning by farmers groups.

Until now, the hunting of the wolf has only been permitted north of the waterway, in large parts of Castilla y Leon, Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria.

As Spain’s wolf population has expanded, packs of the animal have been found further south in remote parts of Madrid, Extremadura and Cuenca, leading to huge numbers of the wolf falling victim to poachers.

The exact figures are unknown, but up to a thousand are thought to have been shot or poisoned since the mid 1990s.


Now, the government has moved to legalise all wolf hunts and even has the support of Brussels – despite vetoing a similar plan in 2003.

An EU spokesman said: “We understand the social and economic problems large carnivores can cause. We also understand certain regions of Spain have a problem with an overpopulation of wolf.”

It is believed Brussels demanded strict quotas on the wolf cull in exchange for its consent.

The number of wolves to be killed is not yet known. However, the figure is expected to be 50 per year.

Despite support from the central government and EU, environmentalists claim the cull will lead to the animal’s extinction.

“This plan is ridiculous. Only in 2002 did the government want to include the wolf in the National Catalogue of Endangered Species. Now it wants to legalise the hunting of the animal.

“Combined with the numbers killed through poaching, this cull will lead to the eventual loss of the Iberian wolf,” Theo Oberhuber of Ecologistas en Accion said.


Moves to control the exploding wolf population come in stark contrast to that of the Iberian lynx, the world’s rarest feline.

With only 150 lynxes remaining in 2005, today there are believed to be 250 in the wild – an increase that could see the animal soon lose its endangered status.

Speaking at meeting of environment officials in Sevilla, Environment Minister Cristina Narbona said: “Spain intends to fix a timetable to remove the lynx from its status as a species under threat of extinction.”

The EU also announced it is ploughing 27 million euros into a lynx protection programme to supplement a government subsidy of 7 million euros.

As reported in the Olive Press (New lynx population found in Spain), the two established lynx populations in the Sierra Morena mountain range and Doñana National Park in Andalucía have recently been supplemented with the discovery of a new colony further north in Castilla La Mancha.


  1. This “cull” is a horrible idea”. What’s more important, protecting domestic animals or very rare wildlife species??? Eating meat is bad for our health and damaging to the environment. We should reduce cattle populations and let the wild predators live.

  2. Wolves are hanging around our homes, killed a boy in canada, and are very habituated and killing not only livestock but are threatening hikers and forcing them to climb a tree to be safe.

    What are you all thinking? Do you hate humans and children that much? Maybe if you had wolves in your back yard you would understand the carnage.

  3. Humans are just as bad if not worse! You here more stories of humans murdering humans than you do wolves killing humans.. and why wouldnt they? we scare them.. so the only way to react is with violence.. if not they get a bullet placed in their skull! These miraculous creatures deserve to live!

  4. Oh dear, more wolf haters on this thread as well as their stupidity that wolves DO NOT eat children. They would probably sniff them, and run away!

    And besides, if your so worried-then why would you leave your kid to see if a wolf would do something? A little stupid if you ask me, but it’s yours, so do with it what you want.

    But really guys, the wolves that usually attack are sick, starving, poisoned, have mange-and other reasonable aspects. You as a parent, sister, brother ect. have more of a threat to the kid than a wolf. People murder people. It’s a fact. Leave wolves alone, you’re just making it hard on yourself, because those who love wolves will just hack at you until you leave.

    Like me!

  5. The Bible says the animals on the earth were placed here to live with us. Ut vivat tecum. In order to live with you. Its in Genesis.

    We are a sick society in some ways, true we need to protect our children from predators, but we tell the poor people in Asia and Africa to live next to tigers and lions so that we can sit in big jeeps and go on safari but scream in anger if just one predator in the west attacks humans.

    There has to be balance and it includes the Roman Catholic church recognising and respecting the words of Genesis and stating that the world is finite in the number of people it can hold.

    In Iran the shepherds have saved a sub species of wolf who follows the flocks, and they put out the dead and injured sheep, a kind of symbiosis. In the west we spend big money and CO2 emissions burning dead sheep.

    I was one involved in the fight to save the Iberian Lynx I was disgusted that mankind in Europe in a relentless bit to produce economic wealth nearly wiped out a creature with a right to be here. I just stopped what I was doing, its like the guy in Nazi times who said they came for the communists and the Pastors and I did nothing, then they came for me and there was noone left. So they came for the dodo and then the baiji in China we have to draw the line, stop what we are doing,say no, the resistance begins otherwise oneday there will only be us left and thats not enough and then they will come for us we will be doomed.

    As the wise Indian chief asked the US president, will you really be happy when the great buffalo no longer roam across the prairie?

    Will we be happy when our replicating apartment blocks and tarmac roads fill the fields where the jumping lynx once lived?

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