A SPATE of wolf murders has led to uproar and a Guardia Civil investigation in the Asturias region of northern Spain, with the decapitated heads of the wild animals being hung malevolently in public places.
On May 30 a wolf’s head was found strung up on a road sign in the town of Salas, in a vicious evolution of the region’s decades-long struggle reconciling the native Iberian wolf population with local farmers.
Conservation efforts in the past five years have led to an increase in the population but a knock-on effect has been a significant rise in livestock attacks, leading to 14,500 compensation claims from Asturian farmers since the turn of the decade.
Local authorities have approved a cull of the wolf population in a bid to placate the agricultural industry but the Asturias Forest Rangers Association believes the decapitations are ‘revenge attacks,’ aimed at pressuring the province to capitulate further.
The events of Monday are only the latest in a series of similar attacks and the Guardia Civil are now searching for the killers, who have doubtlessly drawn the region into disrepute.
Spain and other European countries have had a complex and violent relationship with wolves, leading to their hunting to point of extinction by the mid 20th century.
The advent and exponential rise of livestock farming provided wolves with an irresistible target, and they were subsequently demonised by farmers who, in the modern age, have a variety of high-tech weaponry with which to hunt them down.
Crucial to the problem is that whereas in the past humans were limited in their scope, the emergence of high-powered rifles has allowed them to hunt the strongest wolves, leading to inbreeding and a continuation of the cycle of violence.
Livestock farming is one of the chief problems facing the world today, directly responsible for the destruction of wild habitats and the variety of the animal kingdom.