News from the Natural World: The United Kingdom has told Romania to stop killing its wolves despite shooting its last wolf in 1754.
George Eustice the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has urged Romanian to stop killing their wolves. The Romanian Government had been continuing it’s killing of wolves since 2016. Though they had previously cancelled a plan to kill 552 bears, 657 wolves, and 482 wildcats in 2016. They have resumed killings at an even faster rate after changing their mind.
This angered Romania’s environment minister Costel Alexe. He argued that killing wolves in Romania is the only solution to solve human-wildlife conflicts. Furthermore, the killing doesn’t “endanger the conservation of these two species”. He said that the decision to let the authorities carry out the killings also “prevents trophy hunting”. However, it is not clear that killing wolves will protect livestock. Eustice also argued that there is little evidence such interventions work. Often killing them can make things worse. The older wolves that are wary of approaching farms are killed and they may be replaced by younger wolves who are more likely to attack sheep.
Romania killing more wolves
The UK intervened after the wolf population in Romania was estimated at less than 2,500. Romania accused the UK of blatant hypocrisy and urged them to mind matters that concerned them. Costel Alexe also reminded the UK Environment Minister that the UK had shot its last wolf centuries ago. Somewhat dismayed, George Eustice responded;
“What? The UK used to have wolves? Have you lost your marbles, we have never had wolves!”
Eustice was proved wrong as data showed that wolves had actually been widespread across the UK for thousands of years. But in the late 16th century they caused such damage to the cattle herds of Sutherland that that King James VI made it compulsory to hunt wolves three times a year. Romania accused the UK of blatant hypocrisy.