Wednesday, 10 June 2015

France increases its wolf cull after disputed attack on 16-year-old boy

Monday 08 June 2015

The lightning reconquest of France by the grey wolf (Canis lupus) in the past 20 years has provoked an endless war of words between farmers and environmental movements. Now, France is to boost its official cull of wolves after a surge in sheep deaths and an alleged – though disputed – attack on a 16-year-old boy.

One senior pro-wolf campaigner suggested that the surrounding of a farmers’ son in the French Alps last Saturday by a pack of wolves was a “hoax” carried out by anti-wolf militants.

Whatever the truth, the government is expected to announce this week that it will increase the cull of wolves in France in the next 12 months by 50 per cent – from 24 animals to 36. The agriculture and environment ministers are also expected to relax the rules which govern when farmers can shoot wolves. Environmental campaigners said such a decision would be “grotesque”. They claimed that the attack by a “wolf pack”, had been staged with dogs (without the boy’s knowledge) to bring renewed pressure on the government.

The alleged attack occurred in the village of Seyne-les-Alpes, 70 miles north of Nice, close to the scene of the Germanwings air disaster. Romain Ferrand, a farmer’s son, said that he was surrounded by a pack of nine wolves and four wolf cubs late at night when he went to check on his family’s cows. “The wolves arrived at an incredible speed,” he said. “At first I thought they were after the calves. Then I realised I was the prey.” Romain said he fired a shotgun into the air and the wolves fled.

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