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HomeLatest NewsAre the wolf figurines in Cantabria overpriced? Naturalists and conservationists cut...

Are the wolf figurines in Cantabria overpriced? Naturalists and conservationists cut the “official” population by almost half

Are the wolf figurines in Cantabria overpriced? The Ministry of the Environment, headed by Guillermo Blanco (PRC), in its latest report on the establishment of a hunting quota for 2021-2022, collected information that the predator population is currently increasing to 180 specimens, at the rate of nine specimens per herd. but ecologists and natural scientists greatly underestimate this figure and reduce it to between a third and a half.

Aside from the scientific debate, in which each side uses its own experts, determining the exact population is essential to the conservation of the species in an area, given that applying a maximum wolf kill rate of 20% in each campaign does not make sense. the same consequences if the population is 180 individuals as if it were lower.

In any case, the forecast for the latest quota is not going as expected due to the inclusion of the wolf as a non-hunting species on the Lespres List seven months ago. The ministry does not currently report the number of wolves killed or death offers made to the Ministry of Ecological Transition (Miteco), which has put them on hold until a national predator management and conservation strategy is approved.

The quota for the 2020-2021 campaign is 34 people to shoot, but if the population is significantly smaller, around 100 people, 20% would mean 20 people, which shows how important evidence-based scientific knowledge of a population is. not ratings.

The main problem in Cantabria is that there is no official data since 2015. Since then, everyone has been drawing coals on a frying pan: the ministry, interested in keeping hunters and ranchers happy, has said for years that the main problem in the primary sector in the community is the wolf and its attacks; and conservationists who demand that there be no death of a species that wants to protect the European Union and that has not hunted for seven months by decree of Teresa Ribera’s Ministry.

The Directorate General of Biodiversity estimates that there are 20 herds in Cantabria, each with an average of nine individuals. Since 2015, these numbers have been obtained in an inductive way, a type of reasoning that allows conclusions to be drawn from certain premises, but does not guarantee them. The number is counted at the end of summer, when it is more numerous due to the breeding season; In addition, immature and non-breeding adults associated with the group joined the herd, as well as a few calves, which averaged five in the Picos de Europa in 2014. Summing up, nine copies come out.

This approach is advocated by biologists such as Mario Saenz de Buruaga, holder of the gold badge of the Castile and León Hunting Federation, but not shared by others.

The most militant environmental association in the area, Ascel, which has dragged the Cantabrian government into a lawsuit, claims that the real number of wolves in Cantabria is much lower. “The average size of a group of wolves in Iberia is 4.2 (± 1.7) individuals. This figure scientifically determines the size of the Iberian wolf group and is the standard figure that should be used to derive estimates of the wolf population, ”says the representative of the organization. environmental association. At a maximum of 5.9 copies per group, the reduction is estimated by the Ministry to be one-third.

Naturalist Javier García Oliva, with 40 years of experience in studying the fauna of Cantabria, believes that assessment based on footprints, traces, sightings and damage done opens the door to the subjectivity of the results. In his opinion, “published works show that the average for the Cantabrian mountains is from 2.5 to 4 wolves in a pack.”

Why then does the Ministry estimate an average of nine wolves? “Obviously, because the number of wolves is exaggerated to justify their persecution.” On the contrary, according to this naturalist, the real population would be reduced to almost half, or even less, of the officially declared.

The national wolf census in Spain identified 13 confirmed family groups, seven of which are groups that also move into neighboring communities: two in Asturias, one in León, two in Palencia, one in Burgos and one in Biscay. In addition to the confirmed groups, the existence of two more groups was assessed as probable.

Without conducting new censuses, the Cantabrian government has made estimates in subsequent years: from 13 herds inspected in 2014, it has increased to 15 in 2019, to 17 in 2020 and to 20 now after the application of annual quotas of 20%.

The paradox is that the killing of wolves is most likely the cause of the increased damage to livestock. Human harassment disperses and breaks up packs, so young and inexperienced individuals attack easy prey such as cattle without supervision or protection in areas away from wolf cores.

This is confirmed by the scientific literature: “Killing wolves, contrary to what it may seem in the eyes of the layman, does not reduce the damage to animal husbandry. In the period 2003-2010. but the relationship between dead wolves and damage by management area and year was not negative, but positive: more dead wolves, more damage next year,” concludes the 2013 study. Similar positive correlations were found when analyzing dead wolves and cattle damage in the Picos de Europa National Park (2013) and in the Saha Reserve (2014).


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