The concentration of wolves in certain EU regions has become a danger for livestock and potentially humans, according to the EU Commission.

The return of the large predator to parts of the EU where it had been absent for a long time is increasingly leading to conflicts with local farmers and hunters.

As a result, the commission is today (Monday, September 4) launching a new phase in its work on addressing the challenges related to the return of wolves.

Local communities, scientists and all interested parties are being asked to submit up-to-date data on wolf populations and their impacts by September 22, 2023.

Based on the findings, the commission said it will decide on a proposal to modify the protection status of wolves within the EU.

The commission will also consider if it is necessary to update legislation to introduce further flexibility “in light of the evolution of this species”.

In April 2023, the commission began collecting data on wolves from expert groups and key stakeholders, as well as the data reported by national authorities.

However, this data still does not provide a full picture sufficient for the commission to design further actions and the commission is today broadening this consultation.


Under the EU Habitats Directive, most wolf populations in Europe are strictly protected and this has allowed populations to increase.

Conservationists say that as a natural species the wolf plays an important role in Europe’s natural ecosystems and food chain.

In 2022, the EU estimated that the total number of wolves in EU member states is around 19,000 and is likely to exceed 21,500 across the continent.

Local and national authorities can currently avail of a derogation to take action on wolves only when it is deemed necessary, with “significant” EU funding available for such measures.

The commission said that some measures have proven effective in preventing or significantly reducing predation risks when properly implemented and tailored to the specific region.


In recent months, several EU member states have raised concerns that farmers will “give up” on livestock farming due to attacks on their animals by large carnivores, particularly bears and wolves.

Some countries are seeking changes to the Habitats Directive to allow them to better deal with the issue.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has also had personal experience with wolves.

Last year, her 30-year-old pony, Dolly, was attacked and killed by a wolf that managed to sneak into her compound in Germany.

“The concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans.

“I urge local and national authorities to take action where necessary. Indeed, current EU legislation already enables them to do so,” von der Leyen said.

Wolves have been extinct in the wild in Ireland for around 240 years.

In 2019, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called for the reintroduction of species back into Ireland  to help “rewild parts of the countryside”.