European Commission: Finland may grant hunters permits to shoot
The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) accused the Finnish authorities on Friday of being "afraid of Brussels", as no permits are being granted to kill disturbed wolves.
"We feel that the Commissioner for the Environment and his cabinet at the European Commission are more concerned about the safety of Finns than the Finnish authorities are", says Ismo Karppinen of the Finnish wolf delegation that visited Brussels.
The wolf mission met , among others, with the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, and with some senior members of the cabinet of the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Stavros Dimas.
The dispute with the EU has generated strong feelings across Finland, after the European Commission last year took Finland before the Court of Justice of the European Communities for granting hunters permits to shoot wolves too freely.
Rehn said that he hopes that the Commission would withdraw the lawsuit after looking into the new management plan for the wolf population in Finland submitted to the EU at the end of last year.
"Finns are scared of the EU, and therefore permits to shoot wolves are not granted. We found out, however, that the EU does not reject such permits", Karppinen commented after hearing the opinions of the senior members of Dimas's cabinet.
The information was confirmed by a source close to Dimas: the Commission has nothing against the granting of hunting permits to shoot wolves if they pose any danger to human beings or domestic animals.
"Let's be sensible. Can anyone seriously imagine that the Commission would forbid anybody to shoot a wolf, if it attacks? Of course it is permissible to kill a wolf in such a case", the source noted.
Senior Officer Sauli Härkönen of the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry feels that the accusations of Finns being scared of the EU "sound a little peculiar".
"The lawsuit just claims that Finland has been granting hunters permits based on too light grounds", says Härkönen.
While hoping that the Commission would withdraw the lawsuit, Härkönen nevertheless stresses that all new permits will be evaluated case by case.
Currently, applications for hunting permits at least from the eastern cities of Sotkamo and Outokumpu are being handled. At the end of last year, the Ministry rejected all applications concerning nine disturbed wolves in Kuhmo, also a city in Eastern Finland. Based on the applications, the Ministry then believed that those wolves did not pose any great danger to anybody.
Typically, the arguments of an application say that wolves kill domestic animals and are dangerous to people.
On the other hand, Härkönen argues that he does not remember any case of a wolf having ever attacked a human being.
However, Karppinen remembers a case in the 1960s, when a wolf attacked a man who was fishing through a hole in the ice in Kuhmo. The fisherman managed to kill the beast with his drill.
Finland's present wolf population is 200 individuals. The population has been on the increase in the course of the last few years.
According to the management plan, Finland intends to spread the wolf population from Eastern Finland towards Western Finland.
Previously in HS International Edition:
European Commission denies setting numerical target for Finnish wolf population (10.10.2005)
A wolf consumes ten elk in a year on average (3.5.2005)
The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK)
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: A management plan for the wolf population in Finland