The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Tuesday called on the Belgian Government to adopt an active policy that helps farmers financially and technically to protect their animals, following the sighting of at least two wolves in Limburg. In the spring, a female wolf, Naya, had been sighted in the province. A second animal, male, has since been spotted. The two specimens have been photographed together. Should they form a couple, young cubs could become part of their pack next year.
Not everyone is delighted at the prospect: nine sheep were killed last week in two natural zones in Limburg and this has been seen as the work of a wolf.
WWF stressed that wolves normally prefer wild prey to livestock. “However, certain wolves quickly learn that domestic animals like sheep can be easy prey,” it said.
A wolf needs to learn that domestic animals cannot be part of its diet, WWF said. It noted that in Germany, for example, measures have been used successfully, explaining that electric fencing used correctly and/or guard dogs can practically eliminate all the damage caused by wolves.
According to the WWF, farmers in Germany receive subsidies to apply these protective measures, which shows that cohabitation with wolves is possible.
Natuurpunt, an organisation that focuses on the protection of nature, supports the call by the WWF for financial assistance for farmers. The Flemish chapter of Natagora, Natuurpunt advocates the mounting of pilot projects and a focus on awareness building. All parties concerned need to come together and discuss the issue, it says. It has also urged that work be done to connect natural zones, which would limit the risk of wolves being run over.