Ursula confronts the Big Bad Wolf – POLITICO

Ursula von der Leyen does not dance with wolves. Especially when they go after one of their own.

The story of the President of the European Commission and the Big Bad Wolf began a few days before the harvest moon on a warm night in the lush riding country of rural Lower Saxony. Sometime after midnight on September 1, a gray wolf snuck into the wooded hamlet of Burgdorf-Beinhorn in search of a meal. The predator found one in a well-guarded enclosure at the end of one of the colony’s two roads.

Dolly, 30, didn’t stand a chance. Her body was discovered the next morning in the tall grass where she was grazing.

This would probably have been the last person to hear of Dolly if the crime scene was only 100 yards from von der Leyen’s country house and Dolly was the Commission Chairman’s most beloved pony.

“The whole family is horribly upset by the news,” von der Leyen said in a statement after the murder.

Local authorities suspected a Canis lupus known as GW950m. A month later, he was put on a kill list. Even though wolves are a protected species in Europe, governments allow their removal under special circumstances.

With the help of DNA evidence, investigators confirmed in December that GW950m, the suspected perpetrator of more than a dozen other murders, was their wolf.

It seems that even before Dolly died, GW950m was already headed for a firing squad.

“A request for a special exception to the protected species laws has been submitted and assessed in accordance with the relevant legal requirements,” said Christina Kreutz, spokeswoman for the region of Hanover, the authority which issued the death sentence. GW950m, in the German daily taz at the beginning of December. , declining to say whether the President of the Commission was involved.

When asked by POLITICO last week if Dolly’s death influenced the decision to eliminate 950 million GW, Kreutz insisted no.

“The attack on Ms von der Leyen’s pony was not the reason,” she wrote in an email, adding that the request to withdraw the GW950m had been filed earlier.

Indeed, according to the official certificate authorizing his assassination (a copy, which after redacting to comply with GDPR rules, was viewed by POLITICO), GW950m’s initial takedown request was filed on August 31, the day before the Dolly’s untimely demise.

Instead of a Christmas amnesty for 950 million GW, the former German defense minister has brought out the big guns, putting not only Dolly’s killer in his sights, but his whole tribe | Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The only question: by whom?

A Commission spokesman insisted it was not von der Leyen.

“The Commission and the president are in no way involved in the decision,” he said.

An accomplished rider who grew up in the saddle, von der Leyen was not (perhaps understandably) particularly understanding of the slaughter of one of her favorite horses.

Even so, few would have expected the ever-smiling von der Leyen to turn out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, either.

Instead of a Christmas amnesty for 950 million GW, the former German Defense Minister has brought out the big guns, putting not just Dolly’s killer in his sights, but his entire tribe.

In the weeks following Dolly’s death, von der Leyen ordered Commission officials to reassess the rules strictly protecting wolves in Europe. In late November, she called for a “thorough analysis” of the wolf threat after reports of increased attacks on livestock, particularly in the Alps.

“There have been numerous reports of wolf attacks on animals and increased risk to local people,” von der Leyen wrote in a letter to Christian Democrat MEPs, seen by POLITICO and first reported by taz. “Understandably, this situation raises questions in the affected regions as to whether the current protection status of wolves is justified.

European farmers have been complaining about wolves for years. The question is whether the death penalty is the solution.

Wolves had completely disappeared in von der Leyen’s home region until wildlife preservation efforts led to their reappearance about 15 years ago.

Since then, their presence has been a source of constant tension. With around 1,200 wolves prowling across Germany, annual livestock losses run into the thousands.

Even with the largest population of wolves, predators rarely prey on horses.

“A wolf is a wolf, but that individual wolf has probably learned that it is possible to attack and take horses,” said Frank Faß, a German wolf expert, referring to GW950m, adding that the case was always the exception to the rule.

Although Faß said he appreciates the arguments for eliminating a wolf behind a kill like that of GW950m, hunting the animals (the authorities enlist local hunters for this task) is easier said than done. to do. Faß says special fences, although expensive, are a better remedy.

“What we’ve seen in Lower Saxony is that when a wolf gets shot, it’s never the right one,” he said.

Indeed, GW950m is living proof of that. Authorities first put him on their target list in 2021, but removed him after a hunter shot and killed a female member of what became known as the “Burgdorf Pack”.

For now, GW950m remains a fugitive. The current bounty on his head expires on January 31, after which he will be free to roam again.

Unless that’s the case, the President of the Commission stands in his way.

This article is part of POLITICO Pro

The one-stop solution for policy professionals fusing the depth of POLITICO journalism with the power of technology

Exclusive and never-before-seen scoops and ideas

Personalized Policy Intelligence Platform

A high-level public affairs network


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button