- VIRGINIJUS SINKEVIČIUS
EU Commissioner for Environment,
Oceans and Fisheries
Dear Commissioner Sinkevicius,
Following our previous updates, as part of the information sharing with you and your Staff, agreed during our online meeting last year, we send you below the “Stockholm Statement” we have just approved during our Annual Assembly Meetings in Stockholm, representing the position and deep concern of Environmental NGOs from 13 EU States, and 15 continental countries in total before the Swedish Government and local press.
With this Statement, we just demand a proper enforcement of the Legal Regulations such as the Habitats Directive, and express our alarm due to the Swedish Government’s plans to authorize a new killing of 75 wolves out of a population of around 350 individuals, (excluding the wolves killed during the inventory period), which is a very considerable number of this endangered, EU protected species.
As you already know, the Swedish population is especially vulnerable not only because of its extremely small size but also because of its high level of inbreeding. According to the University of Stockholm’s geneticist Prof. Linda Laikre a few days ago, “the conservation genetic situation (of the Swedish wolves) is highly unfavorable and genetically isolated”, a fact backed by the Coalition for Conservation Genetics, comprised of the IUCN Conservation Genetics Group among others.
The decision to cull these 75 wolves is once again not only a clear breach of the EU Regulations, but an irresponsible action against EU society at large, in the middle of a biodiversity loss crisis of planetary scale, as has just been clearly stated during COP27 Biodiversity Day:
EAWC STOCKHOLM STATEMENT
The European Alliance for Wolf Conservation, an association of European NGOS from 13 European countries, gathered in Stockholm on the 27th of October of 2022, hereby demands the Government of Sweden to immediately stop the licensed hunting of wolves, which is in clear breach of EU regulations and specifically of the Habitats Directive. Given the population of wolves in the Scandinavian region and their serious genetic problems, the continuation of the current management policies is incompatible with the keeping of the mandatory “Favourable Conservation Status” of the species in the country, and will increase the risk of its effective extinction.
This is intolerable from a National perspective but also from the standpoint of the rest of European Countries, several of which are successfully conserving much larger numbers and densities of wolves and allowing the species to fulfil its ecological function and provide its essential ecosystemic services to the benefit of all European citizens. If the EU keeps tolerating this blatant infringement of EU regulations it will be sending a dangerous message to other Member States wishing to circumvent the Habitats Directive in its spirit and letter.
Since your last letter to us dated May 21, replied by Mr Notaro on your behalf, “the ongoing dialogue with the Swedish Authorities on their policy on wolf”, you made reference to, seems not to have given the expected result nor your promise to “take appropriate action if the evolution of wolf policy in Sweden does not improve”, since the situation as you can see, has worsen very worryingly.
Furthermore, we have learn that the Norwegian Regional Authorities have also decided upon the culling of another 50 wolves on the territory of Norway, among them four wolf packs where three of them are straddling between Sweden and Norway. This would make the total culling quota for population control this winter up to 114 wolves which is more than 30% of the Scandinavian wolf population.”
While we praise the Commission`s environmental work during this Term of Office under your determined and courageous leadership, we are fearful that this new flagrant challenge in Sweden, poses a threat by setting a precedent while sending a dangerous signal to other EU States and stakeholders involved, that undermining EU Directives to manage wolves as it best suites their personal/political interest, without the proper legal and scientific criteria, is perfectly viable even at such levels, and remains once again unpunished.
EAWC Steering Committee