European Commissioner : Thank You

Filed in Events, In the Press on Jul.24, 2018

Mr Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for the Environment recently met members of Luonto-Liiton susiryhmä Humane Society International and Eurogroup for Animals organisations I help and support with my photography. The Commissioner has said he is committed to protecting large carnivores; Wolves, Brown Bears, Wolverine, Lynx in Europe and to keep their protection status in all Member States.

He was presented with one of my photographs as a gift to thank him for his hardwork and commitment towards achieving long term coexistence with large carnivores for the benefit of people and wildlife conservation. One such speech he has done recently can be seen by clicking on the following link.

The image of a wild Brown Bear and Wolf was taken at a remote location in Finland on the Russian Border. It shows an uneasy truce for a few seconds as a female wild Wolf faced one way and a wild Brown Bear faced the other way. To read more about the image and the story behind this see the following blog post.

Finland is one of my favorite countries, it is a beautiful place with some of the most wonderful wildlife in the world. I’ve always tried to help many campaigns and organisations with my work, showing the beauty of what lives there and the importance of protecting it. I’ve used examples from what I’ve seen and witnessed here in the UK, where I wouldn’t want the extinction of these beautiful large carnivores to happen as it has in my own country. One interview that covered my work and thoughts can be read here.

According to the Habitats Directive of the EU, the Finnish grey wolf is an endangered species. As conservation of biodiversity has become a global issue, efforts are being made to restore wolf and other predator populations that were exterminated in the past. Wolves have a very important role in the ecosystems in which they live. They improve their habitat and increase the populations of countless species.

Wolves help keep their prey populations healthy and vigorous by reducing the old, sick and injured. Finland should celebrate the presence of these remarkable predators and encourage responsible ecotourism in the areas where they live. The present situation for the wolves in Finland is so severe that if public opinion doesn’t change, Finland could be left with no wolves at all. Through their international wolf awareness campaign #GREYPRIDE strive to promote the peaceful coexistence between wolves and humans in Finland and Europe.

Today there is considered to be very little risk to humans from wolves in Europe, yet public attitudes remain negative. Research shows that wolf attacks are perceived to be more common than they actually are, and fear of wolves is still a significant factor in opposition to wolf recovery in many areas. This fear can be effectively addressed by good education, through lectures, talks, information centres and publications about wolves. It is important that education is carried out in all sections of society, and is honest about the risks posed by wolves.

Denying that wolves are potentially dangerous can be counter-productive, as anti-wolf campaigners will accuse conservationists of deliberately misleading the public. Better understanding of the risks reduces fear. Education should include discouraging the public from feeding wolves or approaching too closely, as most incidents where people have been injured by wolves in the last few years have involved animals that had become habituated to being around people and associating them with food.

Next April I return to Finland running my Black grouse and Capercaillie Lek photo tour, I then return in July for my Wolves, Bears and Wolverines photo tour. If you’d like to join me next year visiting this magical place then just click on the respected trip name, if you cant join me then sit back and enjoy the following slideshow from one of my many trips there.

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