Not so big and bad: wolves caused just 0.2% of damage to fauna last year

A gray wolf. Photo:
A gray wolf. Photo:

Wolves were responsible for just 0.2% of the damage to fauna in the Netherlands in 2020, according to research by conservationists.

Since the animals returned to the Netherlands in 2019 after a 150-year absence farmers have voiced concern about the threat to sheep and cattle.

But according to BIJ12, which advises provincial governments about the effect of wolves, there were just nine instances of wolves attacking livestock between February and May this year.

Another eight reported incidents were found to be the work of foxes, dogs and unidentified creatures. BIJ12 received 670 reports of wolf tracks in the three-month period, 249 of which confirmed the presence of wolves.

Geese were responsible for around 90% of all damage to farms by wild animals, while wolves did not even feature in the top 10, the organisation said. Other major offenders were badgers, wild boar and rooks.

The first wolves crossed into the Netherlands from Germany, but BIJ12 said they had now been sighted in several Dutch provinces, including Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Overijssel. Between March 2019 and July last year 11 different individuals were identified.

The first footage of a pack of wolves living in the Veluwe national park was captured in January this year, while in March a pregnant female was knocked down and killed by a car on a provincial road near Ede.

Farmers are compensated for any animals that are killed by wolves, but the community wants the government to take wider measures to protect their herds, such as erecting a 150km-long electric fence across Friesland.

But BIJ12 said a wolf roaming the Groote Heide area near Eindhoven had managed to jump over the fences that were meant to keep it out. Its prowess has surprised wildlife experts, who have installed cameras to monitor farm animals.

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