STA, 22 January 2020 - Slovenia has sought to convince the European Commission to loosen rules on the protection of large carnivores when populations of the animals are booming, but EU officials appear to have poured cold water on the idea at a meeting at the Environment Ministry this week.
The Brussels officials said the key goal of European policies was cohabitation with large carnivores, which means prioritising protective measures and paying out compensation in the event of livestock loss.
"The extreme measure in the event protective measures are not working is culling, provided ... that the favourable state of the population is being maintained and does not worsen," the ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.
It is the job of the state to strengthen communication and awareness raising, especially in the countryside and in areas where populations of large carnivores are growing, the EU officials were quoted as saying.
The statement came a day after the ministry organised a meeting on Tuesday featuring EU officials and the members of a national task force for the management of brown bear, wolf and lynx.
The populations of brown bear and wolf have been expanding in Slovenia in recent years, leading to push-back from locals living in affected areas and demands that culling, the principal management measure used in Slovenia, be intensified.
In 2019 just over 170 bears were culled out of a rapidly rising population that is estimated to number just under 1,000 animals, and five of the estimated 88 wolves on Slovenian territory.
But despite the extensive culling, Slovenia had sought additional loosening of EU-wide rules on protected species to make it even easier to control the population.
Environment Minister Simon Zajc thus called for a more flexible approach at an EU ministerial in December, with the argument that the specifics of each country ought to be taken into account.
The EU officials have now said that no such change is currently planned. Procedures may be initiated assuming such motions are backed by hard science, but the procedure is exceptionally long, the Environment Ministry said in a release after the meeting.
All our stories on bears in Slovenia are here