Court blocks provincial plan to shoot wolves with paintball pellets


A judge has blocked Gelderland province’s plans to scare off wolves by shooting them with paintball guns while further investigations are carried out.

The province issued a special exemption in October allowing rangers to fire paintball pellets at the wolves in the Hoge Veluwe national park, amid fears they were becoming too tame.

Nature conservation society Faunabescherming challenged the exemption in court, arguing that the pellets could harm the wolves and the plan was a breach of conservation law and the national wolf plan.

The district court for Midden-Nederland said on Wednesday it would issue a ruling on November 23, but told the provincial government to suspend the exemption in the meantime.

The presiding judge said that paintball guns had not been used on wolves before and had the potential to cause serious injury.

‘This makes the case so urgent that the court must make an immediate decision, a so-called preservation order. The exemption must not be used, therefore paintball weapons may not be fired at wolves,’ the judge said.

Against wolf plan

Faunabescherming said it was pleased with the interim order and hoped a permanent ban will be imposed when the court makes its ruling next week.

‘Shooting wolves with paintballs goes against all existing rules and is not in the current wolf plan. It is totally unclear what kind of damage is inflicted on the wolves,’ a spokesman said.

Provincial authorities took action following reports that a wolf in the national park had been approaching visitors for food, suggesting that it had lost its fear of humans.

Although park rangers are not yet authorised to use paintball guns, they have used other unspecified methods to try to frighten the wolf away, a spokesman said.

The province said it would wait for the court’s judgment next week before deciding what action to take.

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