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Iberian wolf conservancy



WILDWATCHING SPAIN using it´s NGO WILDLIFE&BIO, boost the WOLF&BIO project that tries to improve the coexistence of wild wolves and local farmers.

The wolf plays an essential role in the ecosystems of the areas which it inhabits, regulating the population of herbivores and permitting the correct regeneration of vegetative species. Its presence is key to the maintenance of the habitats necessary for the survival of some species which are in danger of extinction, such as the Grey Partridge and Cantabrian Capercaillie.

The ecological value of the Iberian Wolf and the damage which it sometimes causes to livestock, are, without doubt, two factors which are difficult to reconcile and which lead to considerable disagreement between the parties involved, who have opposing interests.

Up until now, the establishment of hunting quotas in affected zones, with numbers based on the degree of conflict in the area, or population control where the damage has been particularly great, have been the main methods used to reduce or control attacks on livestock. There has been little exploration of methods orientated more towards the prevention of attacks.

The arrival in our country of ecotourism related to the direct observation of the Iberian Wolf or to finding out about its ecology, is now a reality. Areas such as the Sierra de la Culebra or Riaño are being visited by an increasing number of tourists each year. Many of these visitors form part of organised groups with a great interest in ecology and considerable affluence.

This project has been conceived due to the interest expressed by numerous travel agencies coupled with the worries of many anonymous citizens. It concerns the need to protect our wolves whilst at the same time preserving the economic existence of our livestock owners. The idea is not to provide the latter with damage compensation but rather to give them incentives to reduce the problem and help in doing so, with the objective of converting the wolf into a symbol of quality, linked to the mountains and pastures which it shares with man.

Some of the actions envisaged in this regard are :

Preventive

- Lease of pastures in high conflict zones by written contract to those farmers who commit to exemplary farming practices, such as improved guarding of livestock, more control of or temporary housing of young cattle , use of mastiffs etc.

- Purchase of Leonese Mastiff (mastín leones) puppies to be given to farmers after proper training.

- Investment in structures such as troughs or electric fences that support either the control of livestock or their retention in safer areas.

- Any other infrastructure or equipment that promotes or facilitates the implementation of such preventive measures, whilst respecting the natural environment and landscape of the area.

Compensatory measures

- Subsidise insurance against damage caused by wolves.

- Reach agreement with farmers to accept damage caused by wolves in return for economic compensation.

Good practice and educational and informative measures

- Links could be made with artisan producers, for example, of cheese, honey or cold meats, who are willing to include the Wolf & Bio logo on their products, publicising them on the company website or even offering their products to clients.

- Cultural and educational activities which favor the coexistence of human s and wolves in this part of the mountains.


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