Noella, the matriarch of a small family of wolves living in Limburg province, is expecting a new litter of cubs, the Agency for Nature and Woodland (ANB) has confirmed.
The ANB, together with the Institute for Nature and Woodland Research (INBO), has a new set of photographs that confirm Noella’s condition. However, the photos are not being released for the time being, as the location where they were made is too clearly evident. Both agencies are concerned that the wolves may be disturbed by sightseers or even hunters.
The news of Noella’s pregnancy comes as no great surprise to those in the know.
“Wolves only reproduce in February and have a gestation period of 63 days, so then you automatically end up around this period,” Jan Loos, the founder of the website Welkom Wolf explained to VRT News.
“Every she-wolf in all of Western Europe gives birth between mid-April and mid-May. Last year it was the end of April for Noëlla. So this year it will be something like that again.” And he hazarded a guess that the same will be true next year.
The question now is how many cubs there will be, and what are their chances of survival.
“The mortality among wolf cubs is up to 50 percent during the first year,” he said. “It will also be interesting to see how the adolescents, last year’s newborn cubs, will behave. Will they be called in as babysitters or choose to find a partner and habitat for themselves?”
Now as this year’s cubs are on the way, those of last year will soon be leaving to fend for themselves, and that could take them anywhere.
“They could basically settle down in the vicinity if there is still a habitat free, but they could also roam thousands of kilometres throughout Europe: from deep in France and the Alps to even Poland. It will be exciting to see where the three males cubs from last year eventually end up.”