The Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, speculating the name of scientists and providing the data, verification of the accuracy of which is not allowed by the Ministry itself, increased the hunting quota for Lithuanian wolves up to 60 animals (according to the Ministry of Environment, the number of wolves in Lithuania currently reaches approximately 250). The quota increased to the amount which was determined when the hunting quota for wolves was not regulated at all. Back then, in Soviet times, the hunting quota practise was not applied, and the currently compulsory environment protection regulations of the European Union had not been introduced. In 2005 the hunting quota for wolves (20 animals) was introduced for the first time under the agreement of the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania and public environment protection organisations. The quota was introduced as a measure in the transitional period, seeking to completely waive the hunting of these animals and to apply the best coexistence practice in Europe, this way following the example of other European Union member states.
It should be mentioned that wolves (Canis lupus) are included into the list of animal and plant species of community interest in need of strict protection (Annex II) as well as into the list of animal and plant species of community interest whose taking in the wild and exploitation may be subject to management measures (Annex V) of the European Council Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (92/43/EEC).
Hunting of wolves is forbidden in most of the European Union member states, except the Baltic countries, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
Why do we hunt the wolves?
When joining the European Union, Lithuania had no data on the amount of the population of wolves nor the amount of the damage their populations caused to the farmers. Hunting of wolves in the European Union member states is forbidden. Nevertheless, all three Baltic countries (including Lithuania) succeeded in gaining exceptions concerning the hunting of wolves by negotiation. The hunting was supposed not to harm the stability of the sparse population of wolves within the country.
Nevertheless, the situation differs significantly across the Baltic countries. There are a few times more of these animals in Latvia in comparison to Lithuania. Therefore, in our opinion, it is not fair to request exceptions concerning this matter for Lithuania only seeking to support the goals of a neighbouring country. Moreover, we believe that the so-called ''optimal'' amount of wolves for Lithuania (200 animals) is determined incorrectly. A question arises for whom this amount is ''optimal'' - nature; the society or maybe the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania itself? Why then the Ministry or the scientists, whose opinion is the guideline for this Ministry, does not offer to apply a similar amount to the Republic of Latvia, i.e. decrease the number of wolves allowed to live in this country by 4 times up to the so-called ''optimal''? How can it be explained why in Latvia the ''optimal'' number of wolves, having the right to stay alive, is 800, while in Lithuania this number is only 200, and in Poland it is ''optimal'' to forbid any hunting of these animals?
We are convinced that the amount of wolves in the country should be such which would allow the population of the animals to best perform their role in the ecosystem. That is nature's concern. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Environment gives the role of the regulator of the ecosystem to hunters, which is proved by the statement of the Ministry of Environment distributed on 27-10-2010.
For example, the scientists in neighbouring Poland calculated that 600-700 wolves living in their country ensure the foresters the benefit of 2 millions of Euros every year. This argument was sufficient and the Government of Poland prohibited the hunting of wolves 12 years ago. It appears that the scientists and ecologists in Poland were right - the population of wolves did not increase, since self-regulation is characteristic to the population of wolves: after reaching a certain amount, which is optimal naturally, the number of wolves stops increasing.
Wolves are especially important to all forests, including the Lithuanian woods, for the recreation of which foresters spend millions of Litas every year due to the damage caused by the deer (Cervidae) family animals. Nevertheless, instead of protecting wolves, as it is done in most of the European Union member states, following environment protection and ecological provisions, foresters in Lithuania often ''repay'' the wolves with a bullet.
EU environment protection directives and their actual situation in Lithuania
The status of the wolf in European Union Directives is that of a strictly protected species, which is ensured special protected territories. Directives of the EU determine that in exceptional cases the hunting of wolves may take place only under strictly controlled conditions. For this purpose, the countries, which received exceptions have ratified population management or/ and protection plans.
Lithuania has no plans concerning this matter. Lithuania purposefully, obstinately, and harmfully increases the hunting quota for wolves every year. This quota is applied in the whole country, even though the damage caused by wolves in separate regions differs significantly. The outcomes are outrageous: most wolves are shot in forested areas, where animal husbandry is not well developed and where the most important natural heritage territories are located, including NATURA 2000 territories of European significance. It is a paradox, but in accordance with the data of a survey of ecologists and biologists, the state of wolves is worse namely in the protected territories than in any other places all over Lithuania!
The opinions of the Ministry of Environment and the society differ
At the beginning of this year, representatives of the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission visited Lithuania. They prompted the Ministry of Environment to pay attention to the offers of the non-governmental organisations solving the wolf and other issues, related to biological variety. But since 2008, when Arunas Kundrotas resigned from the post of the Minister of Environment, officers of the ministry have never taken into consideration the arguments provided by the environment protection organisations either in written or oral form. Officers of the Ministry of Environment have not paid any attention to the offers submitted by the environment protection organisations recently either, which is clearly proved by the official statement of the Ministry of Environment of 27-10-2010.
When providing the data on its own animal population research, the Ministry of Environment every year speculates the name of scientists, even though the research is actually based on the opinion of one scientist, with whom the Ministry is alleged to be bound by financial relationships and profitable orders. This Ministry is obviously not interested at all in the opinion of other scientists, environment protection organisations. Ministry of Environment also speculates the name of the society, claiming that the opinion of the society concerning these animals is ''negative'', even though the Ministry has not performed any surveys of this issue.
Nevertheless, the opinion of the society is contrary to the one supposedly quoted by the Ministry of Environment, such is proved by the number of people who have signed this petition. We would also like to remind that there have been many petitions, requesting to prohibit the hunting of wolves.
Wolves and farmers
The example of Poland, other European Union member states and the United States of America shows that there are many excellent, ecological measures, applying which farmers can avoid damage without shedding the blood of the wolves. For example, special species of shepherd dogs are grown, special modification electric shepherds, certain enclosures, other very efficient means are applied. The purchase and exploitation of some of them is financed and recommended by the European Union. Members of public organisations have already started to apply those measures in Lithuania without any support of the state on a voluntary basis. Farmers participate in such experiments eagerly, because they suffer from wolves and do not expert any support from the state as wolves are the only species, whose damage in Lithuania is not compensated. The measures offered by the Ministry of Environment, i.e. drastic hunting of wolves, have never solved and will not solve the problems of farmers and will only cause incurable damage to nature. The European Union would not allow exterminating wolves. Most of us, Lithuanians, would not like that either.
The best way out is to seek coexistence between farmers and wolves, to teach farmers how to use protective means and, using the support from the European Union, help them purchase the above mentioned means.
Approximately 50 000 sheep are kept in Lithuania. What does that means in comparison to half a million kept in Poland, where wolves are not hunted at all? Even though we have so relatively few animal husbandry farms, we are not able to solve this problem in a civilised way. If the state took care of this issue, the farmers would not have incurred damages up to millions of Litas during the last few years, which they cannot cover themselves easily. Nobody but the Ministry of Environment itself decided not to compensate these losses. And, unfortunately, the Ministry did not offer anything but satisfying the hunting passions of its own officers.
2010 year of biological variety
What is it like for the Lithuanian nature?
United Nations Organisation announced the year 2010 the year of biological variety. What was Lithuania's contribution to this year? Our grey wolf is the most genuine, archaic animal, which has won respect due to the many Lithuanian legends telling about him (let's remember the prophet of the glory of Duke Gediminas - the howling of the Iron Wolf). That is the real symbol of biological variety, considered the protector and the king of the woods from old times. And, of course, it is a live being, which should be ecologically endangered and protected, and which can only live in it's natural habitat.
European Commission is constantly creating, developing biological variety protection strategies, because nature is the home of us all. That was long ago understood by the great minds all over the world. Unfortunately, because of the officers of separate European countries, nice and vitally important initiatives have become only declarative slogans.
We would like this hypocrisy to end and the protection of biological variety to gain a real and not apparent status. Officers of the Ministry of Environment proved themselves to be not able to solve biological variety issues. Therefore, we are prompting to find specialists who would be able to do it better. Forests, fauna and ecological balance are our health, honour and fortune!
We are asking to stop the hunting of wolves in Lithuania, to commit Lithuanian authorities to apply the best European human and animal coexistence experience and finally terminate the Soviet hunting traditions resented by the Lithuanian society.
WE ARE AGAINST THE HUNTING OF WOLVES.
WE ARE FOR THE TECHNOLOGICAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION AND PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION THEREOF, HELPING TO PROTECT THE FARMS FROM PREDATORS IN A HUMANE WAY.
WE ARE FOR THE PROTECTION OF ENDANGERED ANIMALS, IN THIS CASE - WOLVES, I.E. FOR ACCURATE AND RELIABLE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, ENSURING SUITABLE LIFE CONDITIONS AND SAFE MIGRATION OF WOLVES.
WE ARE FOR THE UNIQUE, RARE AND IMMENSELY IMPORTANT TO LITHUANIAN NATURE SPECIES - THE WOLF.