German farmers push for resumed hunting of wolves as numbers grow

BERLIN (Reuters) - German farmers say it is time to rescind a ban on hunting wolves because the animals have become an increasing threat to herds of sheep and other farm animals since their reintroduction in Germany in 2000 after more than 130 years of extinction.

Joachim Rukwied, president of Germany's DBV National Farming Union, said Germany was now home to more than 1,000 wolves, but their members lost over 1,500 farm animals to wolves each year.

"That is dramatic ... It's unacceptable," Rukwied told Reuters. "Every animal taken down is a loss for the farmer, not just financially, but also in emotional terms."

Rukwied said the number of wolves in Germany needed to be actively managed, and called for permits to hunt wolves. The animals are now protected by strict laws because they are considered endangered.

German federal authorities last year said they had counted 60 packs of wolves across Germany in the year ended April 30, 2017, mainly in the northeastern states. That marked an increase of 13 from the previous year.

At the time, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation said about 140 wolves found dead in Germany since 2000 had died in traffic accidents, while 26 were killed illegally.

(Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Alison Williams)