An image of the body of Ursula von der Leyen’s prized horse lying dead in a pasture has resurfaced, as she is forced to deny ordering a revenge killing of wolves.
Dolly, a pony belonging to the president of the European Commission, was savagely attacked by a wolf at her home in rural Lower Saxony, northwest Germany, on September 1.
Ms von der Leyen, an equestrian enthusiast, said at the time that her family was “terribly distraught” over the incident that occurred just 300 feet from her home.
DNA evidence identified the culprit as a wolf linked to a dozen other murders. Officials had previously issued a bounty for shooting it, but the wolf was never caught.
Now the incident is back in the headlines amid reports that Brussels officials are targeting every wolves on the continent.
Pictured: The body of Ursula von der Leyen’s prized horse, named Dolly, is seen dead in a pasture in Germany after wolves savagely attacked it in September last year.
Ms von der Leyen, an equestrian enthusiast, said at the time that her family was “terribly distraught” over the incident that occurred just 300 feet from her home. She has been forced to deny that she is prompting a continent-wide slaughter of wolves after the incident.
A photograph taken in September at the time of Dolly’s death shows the pony’s body lying in tall grass in the middle of a pasture.
The scene was discovered the morning after the attack on the well-guarded compound at the end of a driveway on the farm.
Hannover officials placed the bounty on the wolf, known as GW950m, because it is behind the deaths of 12 other animals. The reward expires on January 31st.
It is illegal throughout Europe to kill or trap wolves, except in special circumstances, such as the culprit in Dolly’s death.
However, his death could have broader implications for wolves across Europe.
Shortly after Dolly’s death, Ms von der Leyen ordered EU officials to carry out an analysis of the dangers posed by wolves.
This was seen to have been done under pressure from the powerful farm lobby and his fellow CDU politicians in Germany, who want the rules relaxed.
In November, he wrote to members of his German People’s Party saying: “The Commission recognizes that the return of the wolf and its increasing numbers lead to conflict.” That same month, center-right members of the European Parliament won a resolution calling for laws protecting wolves to be relaxed.
DNA evidence identified the culprit behind the pony’s death as a wolf linked to a dozen other murders. Officials had previously issued a bounty for shooting it, but the wolf was never caught.
Officials in Hanover said the bounty had been placed on the head of GW950m before Dolly the pony’s death.
“A request for a special exception to the protected species laws was submitted and assessed in accordance with the relevant legal requirements,” Christina Kreutz, a spokeswoman for the Hannover region, said at the time.
Authorities declined to comment on whether Ms von der Leyen was involved.
In an email to political, Ms Kreutz said: ‘The attack on Ms von der Leyen’s pony was not the reason. The publication noted that the initial request was made on August 31, the day before Dolly was killed.
A Commission spokesman denied that the president was involved. “The Commission and the president are not involved in any way in the decision,” he told Politico.
Environmental activists accuse Ms von der Leyen of stoking a culture war over the wolf, with some linking her position to Dolly’s death.
Pictured: A car belonging to German officials is seen outside Ursula von der Leyen’s family home in Germany in September, after a wolf killed her family’s prized pony.
They said it was a good thing that “after being on the brink of extinction, large carnivores have made a notable return to Europe’s landscapes.”
Speaking to the Telegraph, Birdlife Europe deputy director Ariel Brunner accused Europe’s right-wing parties of stoking a culture war over the issue of wolves.
‘Give me a break. The laws are good,’ Brunner said. The derogations are there. If there are problematic animals, you can shoot them. What are you talking about?
“This is a low-level political operation carried out like the culture wars in America. Politicians look for burning issues where people can be divided between us and them.’
But European farmers have long complained that wolves kill their livestock and thus threaten their livelihoods. Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of the agricultural group Copa-Cogeca, said that wolf attacks are forcing farmers to quit.
According to The Telegraph, more than 10,000 sheep are killed each year in France alone. Pesonen said wolf populations need to be managed.