Parliamentary question - E-3765/2009Parliamentary question

Wolf poaching in Finland

by Satu Hassi (Verts/ALE) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE)
to the Commission

In April 2008 the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute announced that the Finnish wolf population had dropped within the space of a year from somewhere between 250 and 270 to about 200, most likely because of the increase in poaching. The authorities have strong evidence on that point, obtained from, among other sources, a snap surveillance operation in Lapland in April 2008. At present there are roughly 220 to 240 wolves, but, if the population is to thrive, there would need to be at least 250.

Replying to a Written Question (E‑3942/08) in 2008, the Commission stated that it would seek clarification from the Finnish authorities regarding the steep decline in the Finnish wolf population and their proposed response.

In many cases poaching offences in Finland do not lead to any investigation whatsoever. Those caught red-handed have either been punished lightly or else declared innocent. The most common punishment is confiscation of an offending hunting weapon by the state and a temporary hunting ban. In the light of the penalties imposed, illegal hunting is considered a minor offence, despite the fact that poaching is causing the population of a protected species to diminish.

In its answer to the 2008 written question the Commission noted that that Member States have to ensure that legislation is respected, even though unlawful killing of wild animals is very difficult to monitor in sparsely populated, isolated rural areas. It also pointed out that the success of EU conservation policy as regards large carnivores depends crucially on the attitudes of local inhabitants.

Will the Commission take any further steps in the matter of wolf conservation and poaching, given that Finnish government action has proved insufficient and the wolf population has begun to shrink?

OJ C 10 E, 14/01/2011