The Committee of Spain’s Natural Patrimony – which includes representatives from each of Spain’s regional governments – voted to include the wolf (Canis Lupus) on the national list of protected species along with the Iberian Lynx and the Cantabrian Brown Bear.
It now has to be signed off by Environmental minister Teresa Ribera.
Farmers however were quick to condemn the move, arguing that a nationwide hunting ban would lead to more attacks on their livestock.
Hunting of the Iberian wolf is currently only allowed north of the Duero but those populations south of the river were already listed as a protected species.
Spain is home to an estimated 1,500-2,000 Iberian wolves, with 90 percent of the population found in the northern regions of Castilla y León, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia.
But wolf populations have been detected even within the Madrid region in the sierra less than an hour’s drive from the capital.
Farmers Union UPA accused the government of igoing against the interests of farmers and insist that the number of attacks on livestock have grown alongside wolf conservation programmes.
“It is we livestock farmers who are in danger of extinction,” it said in a statement.
Conservation group Ecologists in Action however, welcomed the new protection but urged authorities to work with farmers on ways to protect cattle without harming wolves.
Día histórico: por primera vez, tras años de movilizaciones sociales y muchas denuncias de las organizaciones ecologistas, la mayoría de las comunidades autónomas y el @mitecogob han decidido iniciar el proceso para lograr la protección del lobo ibérico.https://t.co/PRjnjQOZgZ
— Ecologistas en Acción (@ecologistas) February 4, 2021