Exploring the Legal Status of Wolf-Dog Hybrids and Other Dubious Animals: International and EU Law and the Wildlife Conservation Problem of Hybridization with Domestic and Alien Species
23(1) Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law 111-124
Posted: 24 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2014
Hybridization with domestic or alien species poses a threat to many species of wild fauna. However, hybridization is not explicitly addressed in the provisions of the principal international legal instruments on nature conservation. This article reviews the relevance, scope and substance of wildlife protection obligations under the Bern Convention on European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the European Union's Habitats Directive with respect to this issue. The problem of wolf-dog hybridization is singled out as a case study. The article concludes that addressing hybridization through preventive and mitigation measures is in conformity with the obligations of States under the Convention and the Directive, and may indeed be essential in order to comply with these obligations. In the wolf-dog context, this includes dealing with feral and stray dogs and captive hybrids, and removing hybrid animals from the wild. At the same time, it appears that the national prohibitions on the killing and capturing of wolves and other strictly protected species, as prescribed by the Convention and the Directive, also cover free-ranging wolf-dog hybrids and similar hybrids living in the wild. This entails that the removal of such hybrid animals from the wild is subject to the rules concerning derogations from strict protection. These rules, however, do not appear to stand in the way of such removal. The article's central recommendation is for the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention and the European Commission to adopt express guidance concerning hybridization.
Keywords: wolf, hybridization, EU Habitats Directive, Bern Convention, wildlife, biodiversity
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