The Finns are, or so it appears from a recent referral to the European Court of Justice: Case C‑674/17.
Man up, Finns! That is the AG’s advice. The Habitats Directive allows of no derogation from the protection of species obligation that does not come up with a satisfactory alternative. Furthermore it must be shown that any derogation does not worsen the conservation status of that species.
Whatever the CJEU decides, the opinion of AG Saugmandsgaard Øe makes for fascinating reading, going to the heart of the conservation problem. As human populations spread, how to secure the preservation of wild species, particularly carnivores?
The Finnish court referred a number of contested decisions allowing the deliberate killing of a limited number of wolves by the Finnish Wildlife Agency. The national law, which transposes the Habitats Directive, prohibits the deliberate killing of wolves, but it also incorporates Article 16(1)(e) of the Directive. This provision lays out certain strict conditions for derogations from the protection of wildlife. The Agency had authorised hunting for population management purposes within the limit of 46 individuals set by the national rules for the 2015-2016 hunting year.