Europe’s top court has upheld the strict protection that EU law offers to wolves and other species in a judgment published on Thursday.
This ruling came after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) was asked by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland to clarify whether the Finnish government’s decision to allow wolves to be hunted is lawful.
This case aimed to cancel hunting permits, granted by the Finnish Environment Agency, that have allowed the killing of seven wolves in Finland.
The case had been brought to the CJEU by the Association for Nature Conservation (ANC) Tapiola, as wolves are a species that is strictly protected by EU law.
The CJEU questioned whether the Finnish government had put forward sufficient proof to justify killing the wolves, as legally required.
Under exceptional circumstances, the EU Habitats Directive, which requires EU countries to strictly protect species like wolves, allows for deviations from this protection, but only if a number of tests are met.
The Finnish government has argued that hunting a limited number of wolves would help to reduce public fear and avoid illegal poaching. This would, the government claimed, ultimately lead to better conservation.
The CJEU’s ruling sets an important precedent for not only the protection of wolves, but also other species such as bears and lynx as well as a whole host of vital species like bats, snails and scorpions.
The case will now return to the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland for a final judgment.