STA, 10 August 2019 - Farmers demanded a significant decrease in the country's wolf population at a rally in Velike Lašče on Saturday. They believe wolf population must be restricted to a fenced-in reserve in state-owned forests and demand preferential treatment for people living in wolf-populated areas.
Addressing the rally this morning, president of the Farmers' Trade Union Anton Medved said that the union would not agree to having to fence in the entire countryside.
"Just like farmers are obligated to prevent our animals from causing damage to neighbours, the state is obligated to take care of its wild animals, so that they will not cause damage to Slovenian farmers, said the president of the union that organised the rally.
He also said it was unacceptable that the wolf population had spread into the Alps, where a number attacks have been reported this year.
A banner spanning over the stage showed the map of Slovenia with dozens of red dots indicating the locations of attacks that happened in the past six months.
While most of the attacks happened in the southern regions of Dolenjska and Notranjska, the map also showed about a dozen attacks in the Alps of the northwestern region of Gorenjska.
Moreover, Medved demanded that the the state should recognise a lower standard of living for people living in areas with wild animal population, thus introducing tax relieves and development incentives to their benefit.
He also called on Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Simon Zajc to resign. The minister meanwhile responded by saying that the call for resignation was unfounded.
He said in a written statement that he was completely aware of the seriousness of the situation and that he expects those charged with implementing the recently passed intervention law, ordering the kill of 11 wolves, to come up with solutions to do this faster.
Medved said in his speech thta "the Farmers' Trade Union will do everything it can for the Slovenian countryside to remain cultivated, inhabited and to become safe again".
"Only this way will it be attractive for the young... and only this way will Slovenia be able to produce sufficient amounts of food to sustain it through any form of emergency situations."
Until their demands are met, the union is set on staging rallies every weekend. In a week, they will protest in Ilirska Bistrica and a week later in Gornja Radgona, where the country's biggest agricultural and food fair, AGRA, will be taking place.
The protest was also addressed by Agriculture and Food Minister Aleksandra Pivec, who said that the two relevant ministries, her's and the Environment Ministry, and the entire government were determined to tackle the situation.
She also said that these issues should not become political, but should be left to experts.
The latter, on the other hand, do not enjoy much respect among farmers, who believe that experts are at fault that the wild animal populations have reached such high numbers.
According to estimates, there are some 1,000 bears in Slovenia and nearly 90 wolves, living in 14 packs. Farmers and many hunters also believe that the number of wolves slated to be killed is too low and that the intervention act, which was passed in June summer, was ineffective because it imposed too many conditions.
The number of wolf attacks on farm animals has doubled this year over the same period in 2018. Data from the Institute for Forests show that nearly 680 animals had been attacked by the end of July.
Official data show that wolf attacked nearly 580 sheep and goats, but they also attacked larger animals: 41 horses and 34 bovine, as well as two dogs. By now, the total figure has exceeded 700, as new attacks are reported every few days.