The province of Gelderland is to allow tame wolves to be chased away with paintball guns to prevent the animals from getting too close to people and possibly attacking them, local broadcaster Omroep Gelderland reported.
The decision comes following the publication of a video in which a ‘seemingly tame’ wolf is seen walking past a family at close range in the Hoge Veluwe national park. Earlier footage showed a number of photographers surrounding a wolf in the national park.
Environmental organisation Faunabescherming has accused the Veluwe park management of feeding the wolves to make them tame so it can be classified as a ‘problem animal’ which enable it to be removed.
Veluwe park owner Seger Emmanuel baron van Voorst tot Voorst, who denies the allegation, has frequently said the wolves have no place in the Netherlands.
The provincial authorities have now decided the tame wolf needs to discouraged from approaching people. ‘We will use paintball guns to do it,’ a spokesman said. The paint marks will show which animal has been shot at. The distance between wolves and people should be at least 30 metres, he said.
Park owner Van Voorst tot Voorst said he would cooperate with the measure but said it would not help. ‘It’s not a real solution. They just want to avoid saying: kill the wolf,’ he told the broadcaster.
Wolves are a protected species and cannot be culled. The use of the paintball guns is within the guidelines for handling tame and potentially problematic wolves, the provincial authorities said.
It is not clear when Gelderland will start firing at the wolves. The weapons and missile will be similar to those used by the police during riots, the paper said.
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