Judge in wolf-resistant grid trial: why is Animal Rights targeting sheep farmers in Drenthe?

Animal Rights and sheep farmer Stefan Worst from Vledder met today in court in The Hague. That organization believes that the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) should have fined Worst because he allegedly did not adequately protect his animals against the wolf. The NVWA believes that Worst has done more than was necessary. Stefan Worst himself pointed out that he even has an exemplary function in the province.

The Animal Rights Foundation submitted an enforcement request to the NVWA on November 23 last year and the NVWA rejected this request on April 24. Animal Rights then went to the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb); that is the body you will turn to if you cannot come to an agreement with a government body in an objection procedure. The foundation has asked the CBb to impose a fine on Stefan Worst for failing to take effective and effective measures against wolf attacks.

During the hearing, which took place in the building of the Court of Appeal in The Hague, Animal Rights stated that it found the NVWA’s attitude not to be enforced ‘incomprehensible’. Because, the Animal Rights lawyer reasoned, the wolf was already good for 600 dead sheep in the north, 40 of which belonged to Stefan Worst.

The foundation pointed out that EU legislation prescribes that animal keepers have an obligation to protect their animals and that an obligation of result applies, not an obligation of effort. In other words, according to Animal Rights, what matters is that animal keepers actually keep the wolf out and not whether they just do their best for this.

Right at the start of the hearing, the judge said she wanted to temper expectations: she would only rule on enforcement at Worst and not on enforcement, or the lack thereof, in a broad sense. The fact that the judge would look beyond the wolf-resistant grids at Worst was precisely what Animal Rights had intended with this procedure.

Animal Rights argued that Worst could have kept his sheep indoors. According to the foundation, there was no example in the Netherlands that penning animals had not worked.

In addition, the action group indicated that the Drenthe wolf consultant had found several defects in his wolf grid. For example, Worst had to deal with a wolf attack in which the side at the seven meter wide and one meter deep Drentse Aa was not fenced off, while wolves can swim well. Also, the wire once hung higher than the required 20 centimeters.

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