Local authorities in Limburg province have called for action after a border collie was found dead, apparently bitten to death by a wolf.
The incident took place in the municipality of Houthalen-Helchteren in the night of Wednesday to Thursday, when the dog’s remains were discovered some 100m from the pen where he was kept. Somehow, the dog had broken free, the Flemish agency for nature and woodland ANB said, and a fight ensued which the dog did not survive.
Now the mayor of Houthalen, Alain Ysermans, has called on the ANB to meet with himself and the six other mayors of communes bordering the wolf’s territory, to “explain the protocol for problem wolves and the wolf plan as a whole,” he told the VRT.
The mayor of nearby Oudsbergen, Lode Ceyssens, also expressed concern.
“I read a report by the Institute for Nature and Forest Research [INBO] that the remains of a dog have been found in the excrement of a wolf. They thought it may have been a dead dog found by the wolf, or the result of a fight. And now we see a dog killed in a backyard. That worries me,” he said.
“If there’s a problem wolf, we have to get rid of it.”
According to the ANB, however, there is no problem wolf.
“One dog has been killed, but it is premature to draw conclusions from that and say that it is a problem wolf,” said Jeroen Denaeghel of the ANB.
“Of course we are monitoring the situation closely. Before we can speak of a problem wolf, we must have evidence of a wolf that spends a longer period of time in a built-up area and carries out multiple attacks on yards or gardens. Right now that is not the case at all.”
The dog’s owner, who has remained anonymous, claimed the wolf had killed the dog for food, something which Jan Loos, from the wolf-watching association Welkom Wolf, disputed.
“In principle, wolves do not eat canines, because they can be carriers of diseases that are also dangerous for the wolf,” he said.
Of course there have been examples in other countries of wolves eating dogs, but there’s much more likelihood this is simply a matter of the killing of a rival. This seems more linked to territorial behaviour and less to food needs. It seems that the wolf considered the dog a danger to his cubs.”