Perceptions of wolves

In the past, wolves in Croatia were eradicated using all possible means, and large-scale campaigns to eradicate the wolves were carried out during the 1950s. Over time, man's perception of the wolf changed, becoming more positive. Initially, the stimulation of wolf eradication was halted, while in 1995, complete legal protection for the wolf was introduced. However, soon after the wolf became a protected species, two interest groups – hunters and livestock owners – expressed their dissatisfaction with that decision. Livestock owners were against the decision due to damages to livestock by wolves, while hunters opposed this due to the negative impacts on game. In 2001, the Croatian Hunting Association (HLS) published its official stance in its official journals Lovački Vjesnik (Hunter's Journal). Three studies were conducted (in 1999, 2003 and 2005) to determine the opinions of the rural and urban populations concerning the wolf. These opinions were also considered in the drafting of the first edition of the Wolf Management Plan in Croatia (Štrbenac et al., 2005).

The most recent research on public opinion on the wolf in Croatia was conducted in 2005 (Majić Skrbinšek and Bath, 2005). The authors concluded that the opinion on wolves in Croatia was still relatively positive, i.e. they were more positive in relation to 1999 and 2003. The majority of those surveyed wanted to protect the wolf in Croatia for future generations. Meanwhile, extreme opinions became more moderate, which was seen in the increase of neutral positions. These findings indicate a possible loss of public interest for wolves in comparison to previous surveys.

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