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HUNTING

Germany relaxes rules on shooting wolves

The German government on Wednesday relaxed rules on culling wolves, as the population of the predator has grown since returning to the country two decades ago.

Germany relaxes rules on shooting wolves
A wolf spotted in Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

After a emotional debate pitting environmental against farming concerns, the government decided that wolves can now be shot if they cause “serious damage” to livestock farmers.

In cases of repeated attacks against sheep flocks or cattle herds, individuals can be hunted down even if it is unclear which animal in a pack was responsible.

Wolves: Germany's most politicised animal

Previously, wolves could only be culled if they were deemed to spell a real threat to human lives.

A ban has also been imposed on feeding wolves, so as not to encourage the wild animal from shifting closer to human habitations for food.

The environment ministry estimates that there are currently 400 wolves in Germany, while the German Hunters' Association believes the population is more than 1,000 strong.

There have been no confirmed wolf attacks on humans since the animals returned to Germany from Poland in 2000 after a 150-year hiatus.

But livestock farmers have complained of attacks especially on sheep.

The far-right Alternative for Germany party has seized on the issues, particularly in their eastern stronghold state Saxony, urging wolf culls to control their population numbers.

With three major state elections due in the autumn in eastern Germany including in Saxony, Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party has now also backed the tougher stance against the wolf.

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ENVIRONMENT

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction

Campaigners began a legal challenge against five German regions on Monday to force them to take stronger action on climate change, emboldened by a landmark recent court ruling in favour of environmental protection.

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction
Demonstrators from the Fridays for Future movement protest in Gießen, Hesse, with a sign saying "No wishy-washy, no climate lashing". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The plaintiffs are basing their case on a sensational verdict by Germany’s constitutional court in April which found that Germany’s plans to curb CO2 emissions were insufficient to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement and placed an unfair burden on future generations.

In a major win for activists, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government then brought forward its date for carbon neutrality by five years to 2045, and raised its 2030 target for greenhouse gas reductions.

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On Monday, 16 children and young adults began proceedings against the regions of Hesse, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland, with support of environmental NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

They are charging that none of the states targeted by the legal action have passed sufficiently strong climate legislation at the local level, according to DUH.

“The federal government can’t succeed on its own,” lead lawyer Remo Klinger said in a press conference, highlighting state competence in the area of transport.

DUH worked closely together with the youth climate movement Fridays For Future to find activists willing to front the challenges, the group said.

Seventeen-year-old plaintiff Alena Hochstadt said the western state of Hesse, known for its Frankfurt banking hub, had always been her home but she feared having “no future here”.

Concern about the risk of “floods, storms and droughts” led her and other campaigners to seek “a legal basis for binding climate protection”.

READ ALSO: Climate change made German floods ‘more likely and more intense’

Hesse’s ministers for climate and the economy said they were “surprised” by the announcement.

“DUH clearly has not yet understood that we in Hesse are well ahead,” Priska Hinz and Tarek Al-Wazir said in a joint statement, drawing attention to an energy future law from 2012, before the Paris climate agreement.

In July, DUH-supported activists took the states of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg to court on similar grounds.

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