What is the legal protection status of the wolf in Germany and Poland?
On the European level, the wolf is a strictly protected species, which has been listed in the Bern Convention (a conservation agreement of all European Countries) as early as 1979. The Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EWG) regulates that member states have to undertake conservation measures such as developing and implementing management plans and to designate special areas of conservation for the wolf. Deliberate disturbance of wolves, as well as capturing, killing and other forms of interference are prohibited.
In the GDR, the wolf was a huntable species with a year-round shooting season from 1984 on. Since the German reunification in 1990, the wolf has the highest possible protection status under the Federal Nature Conservation Act. Until the end of the 1990ies, some federal states had listed the wolf as a huntable species with a year-round closed season. Subsequently, the wolf was subject to the conservation legislation in the whole area of Germany for more than 10 years. Since September 2012, the wolf has been governed by hunting law in one federal state only, namely the Free State of Saxony. Independently, specialist and enforcement authorities of the federal states are responsible for the wolf.
In Poland, the wolf is not a huntable species and has been protected since 1998. Exception permits that allow for killing wolves are only issued in special cases, when wolves repeatedly kill domestic animals despite livestock protection measures.
Deliberately shooting a wolf in Germany is a criminal offence and will be punished through money fines or imprisonment of up to 5 years. The legislator punishes accidental shooting a wolf through money fines as well and up to 6 months of imprisonment. Further, consequences in the framework of hunting legislation are possible, such as withdrawal of the hunting licence or prohibition of hunting.