Sheep farmers are reporting a marked increase in the number of sheep killed by wolves and demand more compensation and preventive measures from the government, the Volkskrant reported on Friday.
So far this year, farmers have claimed compensation for 134 sheep which were proved to have been killed by wolves. Last year, there were just 21 claims for compensation in total.
Wolves are a protected species and farmers are not allowed to kill or chase them. But compensation for sheep killed by wolves is insufficient, farmers say, and they want government subsidies to pay for preventive measures, such as electric fences.
According to wolf monitoring site Wolven in Nederland, two wolves are currently roaming the middle and east of the country. ‘We can tell by the tracks and the trail of dead sheep in Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe and a small part of Friesland,’ a spokesperson for the organisation told Nu.nl.
The wolves are ‘adolescents’ looking to establish their own territory and have not yet mastered catching and killing deer which would be their preferred prey. Once they are established the wolves will no longer kill sheep, the organisation said.
Two kilometers from the Dutch border in Germany a pair of wolves are raising a family of six young wolves which are also expected to start looking for their own territory and may cross the border with the Netherlands.
The first wolf made an appearance in the Netherlands in 2015, after an absence of a century, and six in all have been known to have roamed the land.
Proof that one of the worst instances of the slaughter among sheep came on Thursday when it became clear that the 26 dead sheep found at a farm in Overijssel in June were indeed the work of a wolf.
‘As long as the government backs this (wolf protection) policy, it should take responsibility for the consequences,’ sheep farmer Herman Jansma told the Volkskrant. ‘I would have to cough up tens of thousands of euros to keep the wolves at bay. I don’t have that kind of money.’
A update of the Wolf Protocol from 2013 which sets out which actions will be taken in case a wolf is spotted is expected in the autumn. This version will contain preventive measures but a spokeman for the Overijssel provincial authorities told the Volkskrant it is not certain if money to pay for fences will be included.