There have been more sightings this week of a new wolf thought to have come to Belgium from Germany, which has been spotted in Kalmthout and Essen just north of Antwerp.
Four sheep were found mauled to death on Monday morning in that area but DNA results that would link the kills to a wolf are still pending, HLN reports.
The wolf has been named Klaasje in homage to Sinterklaas. Bird photographer Glenn Vermeersch managed to capture a photo in Kalmthout on Tuesday morning that was used to confirm its presence in the region.
Loss of livestock
In addition to the four dead sheep found early in the week, Christian Jansen of BIJ12 – the Dutch authority responsible for wolf damage – reported another six injured sheep.
“An investigator has taken DNA samples. It could well be that the wolf that wandered around Nieuw-Vossemeer for a few days has now moved south,” a spokesperson said.
The owner of a mauled calf in Stabroek is convinced that the wolf is also responsible, but Jeroen Denaeghel of the Nature and Forest Agency (ANB) cautions against judging too hastily.
“The presence of the wolf in the region does not mean that the calf was the work of the wolf,” Denaeghel said. “The autopsy shows that the bite wounds were only inflicted after the calf was already dead. Everything there points to a fox.”
In order to prevent further damage, ANB has alerted the municipalities of Essen, Kalmthout and Stabroek about the danger. It has asked that small livestock be kept indoors, especially at night when wolves are active. For cattle that remain outside, electric fencing is said to be the most efficient at protection.
A possible new home for wolves
This is the second wolf to enter the territory of Kalmthout this year. The Welkom Wolf organisation had already predicted at the end of November that a young stray wolf would come from Germany via the Netherlands to the border region, as they’d been tracking that animal’s movements. “It is definitely this wolf,” Jan Loos from Welkom Wolf confirmed.
“More and more wolves are coming here. It is time for the Flemish government to start thinking about subsidising wolf fencing in the province of Antwerp too,” said Loos.
“There is a real chance that a pack of wolves will one day settle in the cross-border area of the Grenspark Kalmthoutse Heide. As far as the province of Antwerp is concerned, the same applies to the border region of Ravels or Mol-Postel.”