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12.12.2011. Author administrator

Wolf Hunting Possible Only in Accordance with the Protection Plan


Wolf hunting in Latvia is allowed practice, stated in the Hunting Law, though it is only possible in accordance with the Wolf Protection Plan, that was revisioned in 2008. Besides that there is an ongoing Monitoring of Large Carnivores, that follows the status of gender and age structure of the wolf population in Latvia. Here is a short summary of the Plan!

Conservation policy

The species conservation plan has been produced in accordance with the requirements of the paragraph 17 of the Law on Species and Habitat Conservation (in force since 05.04.2000.) and is meant for sustainable management of wolves in Latvia and in the Baltic population. The plan includes a strategy for conservation and management of the wolf population while conservation priorities and tasks are to be reviewed at least once every 5 years.

Population status

Wolves inhabiting Latvia belong to the Baltic population, which totals about 3600 individuals with uneven distribution. In Latvia, wolves are more common in the west, north and east and rare in the central part of the country. The last official census showed about 600 individuals in total. The number and distribution of wolves in the country has been fairly constant since the beginning of the 21st century.

Legislation

Wolf is an especially protected species that can be exploited to a limited extent. The hunting season is closed from the 1st April until the 14th July. Quotas are set and controlled by the State Forest Service. Immediately after a wolf is hunted, the leader of the hunting party makes a standardised protocol. The owner of the trophy gets a hunting permit where, according to this protocol, data on the harvested individual are written. The fine for poaching a wolf (incl. if a hunted animal is not reported) is administrative. The first version of the wolf conservation plan  was approved by the Minister of Environment on 28 April 2003 and is in principle implemented.

Conservation objective

- To maintain the Latvian wolf population of least 300-500 individuals indefinitely in the future ensuring continuous species distribution in Latvia.

- To maintain high environmental carrying capacity and natural ecological functions of the species in the ecosystem.

Conservation priorities

The main focus should be on the common status of the Baltic population. To maintain regular contacts with wolf experts in the neighbouring countries and to use the most up-to-date and quality information on the population trends in the population as the whole. To carry out constant monitoring of the Latvian population paying special attention to the demographic characteristics that ensure population’s renewal. To improve public attitude (special target audiences – farmers, hunters, foresters, schoolchildren) and their knowledge of the species ecology, status on the European scale and potential ways of reducing damage. To follow up on the public attitude and analyse various opinions.

Measures

- To continue setting wolf hunting quota and to control hunting (to be carried out by the State Forest Service).

If a decrease in wolf population happens at the Latvian scale, it can be necessary to set local and seasonal hunting limitations or bans in those hunting areas (districts, forestry units) where wolves are rare or where their distribution or density are especially important for the existence of the continuous Baltic wolf population, unless it causes significant losses to livestock husbandry.

- To tighten control over the circulation of the wolf hunting permits and trophies after the animal is legally shot.

- To continue research on territorial behaviour using telemetry methods.

- To take into account species territorial behaviour when carrying out landscape ecological planning and designing new wildlife crossings on motorways.

- To further develop research on the impact of wolves on their prey populations.

- To continue population demography studies using their results to analyse population’s vitality.

- To continue public opinion studies.

- To continue hunters’ involvement in large carnivore monitoring and decision-making process on local hunting bans.

- To inform the public on a regular basis about species status, management and research and ways to reduce damage.

The next update of the action plan is due in 2014.

 

Source: Wolf (Canis lupus) Protection Plan, Salaspils, 2008
Photo: V.Vītola
Tags: wolf, wolf hunting, hunting law

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