Ursula von der Leyen’s beloved pony was reportedly killed by a wolf on her property in Germany
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen learned on Friday that her 30-year-old pony “Cart” was mauled by a wolf and killed at her Beinhorn estate near Hanover, Germany. The local mayor blamed the state environment ministry for its inaction, while the minister urged federal authorities in Berlin to streamline the procedure for shooting wolves who come too close to people or livestock.
“The whole family is terribly upset by the news,” Von der Leyen’s spokesman told the Hannoverische Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ) on Friday. The pony was discovered in the morning by von der Leyen’s husband, in a paddock on his property.
There was “several pools of blood” this “could indicate an agonizing death”, HAZ reported, citing neighbors, but the exact circumstances of the incident are still under investigation by the Ministry of Agriculture. The horse in the nearby paddock, which had a foal, was apparently fine.
Christian Budde, spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment in Hanover, said a wolf attack was “very probable” to blame for the bite, and that DNA samples were taken to identify the culprit. A wolf attack claimed the lives of two other ponies near Lehrte nearly two weeks ago.
Beinhorn Mayor Klaus Koeneke lamented “unfortunate” incident, but blamed Budde’s boss, Lower Saxony’s environment minister, Olaf Lies. The ministry, says Koeneke, did nothing even after a stray wolf was reported in the middle of Hanover in mid-August.
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Lies told HAZ that the problem comes from the federal government, which needs to create a legal framework for faster interventions. There are growing instances of wolves getting too close to people and livestock in the northern German state, but federal laws protecting endangered species make it difficult to do anything about it. . As things stand, action can only be taken “when it’s too late” Lies told the outlet.
Some 40 packs of wolves roam Lower Saxony in August, the ministry said, citing estimates from local hunting associations and describing the animals as “discreet”.
Von der Leyen’s family has owned an estate near Hanover for decades, where they breed horses and ponies. She was a federal cabinet minister for almost 15 years, starting in family affairs and moving to labor and then to defence, while advancing in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party as deputy leader. Von der Leyen, 63, has been president of the European Commission since July 2019.
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