Switzerland wants to water down the protection given to wolves in Europe, which would allow the animal to be culled.
The Swiss government presented its proposal in Strasbourg on Monday to fellow signatories to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
However, countries party to the legal instrument, which is also known as the Bern Convention, said they needed more information on the environmental impact of the wolf before making a decision.
The Swiss authorities want the wolf to be reclassified. The predator currently appears on the list of “Strictly Protected Fauna Species”; Switzerland would like to see it downgraded to a “Protected Fauna Species”.
If the proposal were accepted, the wolf would have the same status in Switzerland as the lynx, allowing it to be shot under strict conditions.
An estimated three to six wolves are thought to be present in the country.
Under legislation introduced in Switzerland in July this year, cantons can issue a licence to kill if 35 farm animals fall prey to a wolf in the course of four months, or 25 animals in one month.
Since 1995, 14 wolves have wandered into Swiss territory from France and Italy, according to Pro Natura, Switzerland’s largest conservation organisation. It said seven had been killed under licence.
Pro Natura has criticised the Swiss proposal, fearing it could lead to the extinction of the wolf in Europe.
The group has already launched a campaign with the slogan, “Don’t let Switzerland kill your wolves!”
Switzerland could find support for its proposal among other parties to the convention, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Around 12 countries are said to be unsure as to whether the wolf merits complete protection.
The convention aims to protect wild species of flora and fauna in their natural habitats, in particular endangered and vulnerable migratory species.
swissinfo with agencies
The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats was adopted in Bern in September 1979.
45 countries are party to the legal instrument, also known as the Bern Convention, including members and non-members of the Council of Europe.
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