Court suspends French Alps wolf cull

11th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 11 (AFP) - France's first wolf cull since the 1930s was halted on Wednesday after a court ruled that a government order authorizing the action, which sheep farmers say is necessary to protect their flocks, was invalid.

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 11 (AFP) - France's first wolf cull since the 1930s was halted on Wednesday after a court ruled that a government order authorizing the action, which sheep farmers say is necessary to protect their flocks, was invalid.  

The Marseille court ruled on a technicality, saying the cull orders for the Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence departments in southern France were illegal because the initial ministerial order had not yet been published in the government gazette.  

The decision was a victory for the Association for the Protection of Wild Species (ASPAS), whose lawyers had argued the cull would endanger a species that is protected under European law.  

A court in Nice suspended the cull order in the Alpes-Maritimes department last week. Wednesday's decision in the two other south-eastern departments effectively put a halt to the operation.  

Environment Minister Serge Lepeltier had authorized the move in the southern Alps last month, saying that up to four wolves could be shot by year's end if attacks on sheep continued.   Exterminated in France before World War II, the wolf was reintroduced in 1992 in the Mercantour national park on France's border with Italy, and its population has since increased by 20 percent a year.  

Sheep farmers who bring their flocks to graze on the Alpine slopes during the summer months complain of the devastation caused by the predator, with more than 2,150 sheep killed in 2003, according to official figures.  

The wolf is a protected species under European law and a cull can only be organized under strict conditions that do not endanger the survival of the colony.  

Lepeltier said the four authorized kills would represent 10 percent of the officially established population, which is of 39 animals, rather than of the widely accepted figure of 55.  

He also said that if the first three animals to be shot were female, there would be no further kill.  

The government had initially planned to authorize the killing of five to seven animals but was forced to reduce the number under pressure from environmentalists who want to see the wolf move beyond its enclave in southeast France.  

ASPAS lawyer Benoit Candon qualified the killing of four wolves as "enormous and disproportionate".

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

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