Living with Success – And with Wolves: Addressing the Legal Issues Raised by the Unexpected Homecoming of a Controversial Carnivore
23(3) European Energy and Environmental Law Review 89-101, 2014
16 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015
Date Written: June 2014
The central problem addressed in this article is the friction that may arise between EU legislation and subsequent developments that were unforeseen at the time the legislation was created. This problem is viewed through the lens of one such development, namely the remarkable comeback that wolf (Canis lupus) populations have been staging across Europe in recent years. Aided by legal protection, these large carnivores are returning to regions and countries from which they have long been absent, creating fresh legal challenges in the process. This article identifies and analyzes several concrete issues where there is an apparent mismatch between current wolf conservation and management needs on the ground and the phrasing or interpretation of relevant provisions in the 1992 EU Habitats Directive. These problems can be traced back, at least in part, to the fact that the current wolf comeback was unforeseen at the time the Directive was drawn up. The article thus provides an intriguing illustration of the slightly paradoxical notion that a development actually aimed for in EU legislation – the recovery of European wolf populations – can still come as a surprise.
Keywords: large carnivores, wolf, Habitats Directive, wildlife conservation, biodiversity
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