Sheep that have been attacked and killed by wolves were not protected by proper wolf-proof fencing, an analysis by news website Nu.nl has shown.
Wolf-proof fencing was only present in six out of 600 attacks on sheep, Nu.nl found, and in 20 cases the fencing was inadequate, allowing wolves to gain access.
According to figures quoted by wolf monitoring board BIJ12, the total number of animals killed by wolves between November 2019 and November last year stands at around 2,000. These were mostly sheep but occasionally goats, calves and ponies were also attacked.
Wolves have been making a controversial comeback in the Netherlands since 2018 but many livestock owners are saying there is no room for the animal in the Dutch landscape.
Despite subsidies for preventive measures and compensation for dead animals, many are reluctant to put up fencing because they feel that would be an implicit yes to the wolves’ presence.
“There are still lots of opportunities to improve the protection of livestock,” a BIJ12 spokesman told Nu.nl. “Last August there were attacks on sheep near Ermelo and Uddel almost every day. But in all but a few cases there was protective fencing, which could have prevented the attacks,” he said.
Preliminary figures for the province of Gelderland have shown that the number of suspected wolf attacks almost doubled last year to 200 in 2023.
The Gelderland provincial authorities are in favour of preventive measures but are also campaigning to cull the number of wolves in the province which currently stands at seven confirmed wolf pairs and an unknown number of cubs.
European rules state that other possibilities to keep wolves from making a nuisance of themselves should be exhausted first and that Europe can accommodate at least 1,000 packs. At the moment the number stands at around 300.
According to Gelderland provincial deputy Harold Zoet (BBB) a cull would “alleviate unrest and increase understanding”.
Earlier plans by the Gelderland provincial autjorities to discourage wolves from approaching the public by paintballing them were shot down by the court.
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