An Iberian wolf-hunting ban is causing tension in Spain

An Iberian wolf in the wild looks at the camera
An Iberian wolf at Basondo Animal Refuge, Spain, photo: Reuters/Vincent West

A ban on wolf hunting in Spain’s rural north is creating tension between farmers who think they’ll lose money and environmentalists who applaud the move.

Following a decision by the Environment Ministry last Thursday, protections for the Iberian wolf in the south of Spain will be extended to the north, where controlled hunting had still been allowed.

“We think it’s a great success,” Nerea Larrabe, who manages the Basondo animal refuge in the northern Basque region, told Reuters. “It’s legislating to make sure an important species from our environment doesn’t disappear.”

Since the 1960s, Spain’s Iberian wolf population has grown from a few hundred to an estimated 1,500-2,000, with more than 90% of the population concentrated in the north.

As alpha predators, wolves help regulate local fauna. According to the agricultural association COAG, the wolves kill around 15,000 farm animals for food across the country each year.

“There’s the conflict,” said Peru Lopez de Munain, a farm animal veterinarian in the Basque town of Errigoiti. “If wolves just killed deer, wild boar and rabbits it would be fine, there would be no problem.”

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