Visitors to the Hoge Veluwe have recently spotted two wolf cubs in the nature reserve, bringing the number of known packs in the Netherlands to four but, expert says, people have little to fear from their increasing number.
The fear of wolves stems from folklore,’ wolf expert Glenn Lelieveld told NU.nl. ‘At one time rabies and lack of food would drive wolves to attack people. Neither is now a problem and Netherlands has enough wildlife to sustain the wolf,’ he said.
Lelieveld also claimed wolves have become wary of people as a result of learned behaviour over time. ‘We have been killing wolves for centuries. They have learned to stay away from people because they represent danger.’
Wolves have been spotted outside their territory but that, Lelieveld said, is usually down to ‘a wrong turn’. Children playing outside are also not in danger from wolves, he said.
The wolf population in the Netherlands is expected to grow and people will have to ‘learn to live with the wolf’. ‘But world wide, more people are killed by a coconut landing on their head than in attacks by wolves,’ Lelieveld said.
Two years ago, the director of the park launched a campaign for the removal of the wolf’s protected status so controlled culling would be possible.
Seger Emmanuel baron van Voorst tot Voorst placed fences around the park in an effort to protect the mouflon sheep population which, park managers recently claimed, has almost halved compared to a year ago.
Wolves have been slowly returning to the Netherlands after an absence of 150 years. Three of the packs live in the Veluwe region and one on the border of Friesland and Drenthe.
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