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By Herald Scotland Online
Photo European Wolf
Slovenia’s government has approved the culling of dozens of bears and wolves to curb the animals’ growing population following a sharp increase in attacks on domestic animals.
The official STA news agency says more than 100 farm animals have been killed by bears or wolves this year.
It said the Alpine country’s bear population has grown to 1,000 after near-extinction in early 20th century, far exceeding the ideal number for the small nation of some two million people.
The government on Wednesday passed a bill stipulating that the number of bears should be reduced by 200, and that a dozen wolves will be culled.
The bill comes after an environmental group managed to overturn an earlier government decree. It needs approval in Slovenia’s parliament.
Earlier this year wealthy landowner said he was pushing ahead with his plans for a wolf reserve in the Scottish Highlands – despite protests.
Paul Lister, a trustee of the European Nature Trust, said he believed the initiative could create 50 jobs in a remote area in the north of Scotland.
Mr Lister, who owns Alladale Wilderness Reserve in Sutherland, believes it could become the equivalent of Yellowstone Park in the USA and help attract visitors to the region.
On the estate’s website Mr Lister said: “We are looking at creating a site of 50,000 acres – which is less than 1% of the Highlands – where we could release a pack of Swedish wolves into a controlled environment. It would be a world class visitor attraction and I believe we can make this idea happen: a kind of Yellowstone of Scotland.”
He added: “It can bring significant benefits to the area in terms of biodiversity, tourism, job creation and education.”
Last summer scientists say that rewilding the wolf could be more than a pipe dream and that a sustainable population is a possibility, but only if it is kept fenced in.
Researchers from the University of Sussex and the University of Kent, concluded that 80 wolves spread over an area of 1,000 square miles – roughly 24,000 acres – would be required to “reduce” deer herds which have been blamed for over-grazing and preventing the return of woodland.
There are around 12,000 wolves in Europe, not including Russia. Spain, Romania, Ukraine and Poland have the most, at least 2000 each, while Italy has at least 600.
Wolves have started being spotted in the low countries and Germany, though these are believed to have wandered across borders from elsewhere.
The last official sighting of a wolf in Scotland was in the late 17th century.