The wolf shot dead earlier this year in the Drenthe village of Wapse was involved in 19 attacks on sheep or other animals and was at least partly responsible for killing 103, local broadcaster RTV Drenthe said at the weekend.
The wolf’s DNA was found on the animals, including a goat and a pony, RTV Drenthe said. Some were killed outright, others so badly injured they had to be put down. The information comes from BJI12, the government organisation which monitors wolves in the Netherlands and keeps a record of all known attacks.
The wolf itself is a young male and part of the pack which is known to have its territory in southwest Drenthe and southeastern Friesland. Some of the attacks involved a parent but mostly the wolf operated alone.
In one incident, on February 28, it attacked and killed or seriously injured 15 sheep on a farm near Dwingelo. In another incident, the animal got through an electric fence that was 120 centimetres high and consisted of six electrified wires.
The wolf was shot dead on the order of the local mayor after attacking a number of sheep that were being held as a hobby. The owner had tried to drive the animal away using a spade and pitchfork but the wolf attacked him instead, biting him on the arm.
The public prosecution department has started an inquiry into the incident. As yet, a video purporting to show the attack has not yet been handed over to investigators.
Dirk Bruins, chairman of local farmers organisation LTO Noord told the broadcaster that the video had purposely not been released. “Some people always think that something went wrong and won’t believe the images or say they have been tampered with,” he said.
Four animal rights groups have made a formal police complaint about the sheep’s owner and the mayor, arguing that the farmer attacked the wolf, not the other way around.
They also want to know why the mayor did not phone a wolf expert before deciding to shoot.
There are currently four separate wolf packs in the Netherlands and four known couples. The wolf is a protected species and it is an offence to catch, disturb or kill them.
Provisional figures from 2022 show that farmers were paid over €235,000 in compensation because their animals were attacked by wolves. That includes cash for 285 sheep plus a sprinkling of ponies, cattle and two goats. Most of the claims were made in Drenthe.
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