Balkan wildlife (including wolves) faces extinction threat from border fence to control migrants

From August 11, 2016 The Guardian

Controversial razor-wire fence put up by Slovenia along its border with Croatia could wipe out local bear, lynx and wolf populations, say researchers

Croatian and Slovenian people protest against the border fence in December 2015

The death toll of animals killed by a razor wire fence designed to stop migrants crossing into Europe is mounting, amid warnings that bears, lynx and wolves could become locally extinct if the barrier is completed and consolidated.

The rising tally of dead roe and red deer is still mercifully small, but contested by local people who claim that it is being systematically under-counted.

Slovenia began erecting the barrier across 180km of its river border with Croatia last winter, as a temporary measure to staunch the flow of asylum seekers, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Inadvertently, it has also created a huge obstacle to animals freely moving across the border in a wildlife rich corner of Europe.

But even though the human migration crisis has dramatically eased, Slovenia’s interior ministry is seeking a change in the law to prevent environmental factors from slowing the barrier’s extension.

A government spokesperson said that while refugee numbers were falling, “there are still more than 57,000 migrants in Greece. The situation in Turkey remains very uncertain after the military coup. There is a political crisis in Macedonia, and an increasing number of migrants are gathering in Serbia, which lacks sufficient accommodation capacities. Also, the number of people travelling the migrant route across the Mediterranean to Italy has increased again.”

While the fence is supposed to be a temporary measure, fears that the crisis could be prolonged were heightened when the government signalled its intent to fence its entire 670km border with Croatia in December…. read more.

 

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