Monday, 20 August 2018

Rise in wolf attacks alarms Dutch sheep farmers

10 August 2018

Dutch sheep farmers are worried that a sharp rise in wolf attacks may force them to install expensive electric fencing to protect their flocks.

In the first half of this year wolves killed 138 sheep in the Netherlands, but the total for 2017 was less than 20, a wolf expert told the BBC.

It is a new problem for the Dutch - March 2015 was the first time for 150 years that a wolf had been confirmed roaming in the Netherlands.

Dogs kill far more sheep every year.

Maurice La Haye, a biologist at the Dutch Mammal Society, said: "It's very difficult to protect against a lone wolf - you can place electric fences round the sheep, but it's expensive."

He told the BBC that young lone wolves looking for mates were entering the country from Germany, expanding their territory and posing a risk to farmers.

But the threat has to be seen in perspective. He pointed out that the Netherlands has about 800,000 sheep, and dogs kill as many as 13,000 every year.

Wolf attacks can be very distressing for farmers, however. It has just been confirmed that one wolf in June killed 12 sheep and savaged 14 others, which had to be put down.

So the farmer, in Lierderholthuis near Zwolle in the eastern Netherlands, lost 26 sheep because of one wolf. The DNA result confirming it was a wolf came back only this week.

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