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Finland Sued over Wolves

The European Commission says it will begin legal proceedings against Finland for allowing the methodical hunting of wolves.

Wolves are protected under EU law, which only allows the culling of problem individuals.

Finland, however, allows wolf hunting.

The Commission says Finland violates EU legislation by issuing permits for hunting based on quotas.

The latest legal step does not come as a surprise, as the EU has issued Finland with several warnings in recent years.

Finland has consistently maintained that wolf protection in the country is in accordance with the EU's directives.

An official from Finland's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said that in practice wolves are fully protected outside reindeer-herding areas.

The ministry has decided that permits for culling nine wolves will be granted to reindeer-herding regions this year. An additional 15 permits will be reserved for problem wolves outside the reindeer-herding area, where there is otherwise a total ban on wolf hunting.

Finland has a population of about 150 wolves. Most of them, about 100, live in eastern Finland.

The legal wheels within the EU courts turn slowly and it will probably take years before a verdict is reached on whether Finland protects its wolves adequately.

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