Last night, two Shetland ponies were killed by a wolf in a meadow in the municipality of Oudsbergen in the Limburg province, causing mayor Marco Goossens to ask Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir to take measures.
The Shetland ponies were bitten to death by one or more wolves last night, and Goossens wants urgent action to be taken.
“In total, some 40 animals have already fallen victim to the wolf in our municipality,” he said on local radio on Monday. “The animal welfare in Oudsbergen is compromised, our residents are worried and I am convinced that we can now speak of a problem wolf.”
“We can no longer speak of a shy wolf,” Goossens said. “The measures such as wolf-proof fences do not sufficiently help, and attacks continue to increase.”
The support base that was built up carefully over a long period of time is long gone, according to him.
An attack on horses is rare, according to Jeroen Denaeghel of the Agency for Nature and Forests (ANB).
“In Germany, where wolves have lived for 20 years, there have only been 20 cases. A horse can easily injure a wolf with a stamp,” he said. “But a pony is of course a lot smaller.”
The wolf only attacks unprotected livestock, so there is no question of a problem wolf at present, according to Denaeghel. “But of course those images of dead ponies hurt me too.”
On Monday morning, the Wolf Fencing Team called on livestock owners to protect their animals from wolves by installing electric fencing, as more attacks are expected in the coming weeks: the youngest cubs get bigger and need more food.
Both professional and hobby sheep farmers can receive subsidies to make their sheep pastures wolf-proof, but for horse and cattle breeders, a subsidy scheme has only been developed for professionals.
“We want to expand that system so that private individuals are also eligible,” said Denaeghel. “By the autumn, that should be around.”