How do we protect our animals from the wolf?

huhThe project was funded by Flanders and Europe. The meetings were held in cooperation with the municipal authorities of North Limburg and the six participating municipalities of Antwerp. Explanation was provided by project partners, the Agency for Nature and Forests (ANB), Wolf Fencing Team (WFT) and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (L&V).

Since in May a second danger zone has been identified with the city of Antwerp and all municipalities north of Antwerp, two information meetings will also be held there at the beginning of September.

Danger area

The wolf has been back in Flanders since 2018. A herd has settled in Limburg and the parents have given birth for the third time this spring. In addition, wandering wolves were regularly fleeing in Flanders, causing damage to farm animals. It is therefore important for livestock keepers to take measures to protect their animals.

Protecting hobby animals in a small meadow is not that difficult, but for large-scale livestock farming in specific situations (such as fencing along waterways or forest edges), this raises many questions. The project wants to go deeper into this, gather information and try to provide solutions. Since most shielding measures are based on the use of electric fencing, the voltage must be sufficiently high and remain so, daily supervision and maintenance (= mowing under wires) creates a lot of extra work and headache for the rancher.

What do you do in case of damage?

The ANB explains that the number of claims increases from year to year, and mainly sheep and goats are injured or killed. There are especially many cases of damage between September and December, once the wolf cubs grow up and go hunting with them. If damage by a wolf is suspected, two steps should be taken. First of all, the damage must be reported immediately via a form that can be found at



www.natuurenbos.be/wolven


. Then the vet would come in to determine the damage and take a DNA sample to see if a wolf was involved. However, the second step should not be forgotten: within 12 working days, compensation must be requested via the Natuur en Bos electronic counter. If the DNA analysis showed that a wolf was involved, the damage would be compensated.

Valuing a killed or injured animal

Jan Eskens (L&V) explained how to determine the value of an animal (cattle or small ruminants) and pass it on to the ANB as advice. Evaluation is based on scales of value and experience. The tables used as value tables are those created after consultation within the sewage fund. Here a distinction is made between breeding animals and production animals or improved animals, in each case on the basis of a series of specific criteria (eg age, weight, health status, horse record value, etc.).

It is important to provide as many relevant documents as possible regarding the dead animal, along with the information form, in order to arrive at the correct assessment.

However, animals without proper identification or breeders who do not have a herd number will not be compensated.

How to close wolfproof?

WFT staff demonstrated in words and video how an existing or new fence can be made wolf-resistant. (See also www.wolffencing.be). “Wolfproof” means to minimize the risk of a wolf entering.

The wolf is not allowed to pass through, under or over the fence. Grids must be smaller than 20cm, or the maximum spacing of power wires can be 20cm, or a maximum of 30cm in height. To avoid cutting the wire, either bury the wire by 40 cm, install a direct wire from the outside at a height of 15 to 20 cm or install a 1 meter wide wire mesh on the ground along the fence. The fence is at least 1.20 meters high with a power cord over it or 1.80 meters without electricity. Electric fence wires must have a voltage of at least 4500 volts and a pulse energy of at least 1.5 joules.

A new brochure is available from ANB “Protecting Your Animals from the Wolf”, which is described in more detail.

Support scheme for large-scale livestock farmers

Who is eligible? Farms with agricultural number, company number associated with agriculture, and the following (minimum) numbers of animals:

– 50+ female animals (sheep, mouflon, goats, alpacas, guanco, llamas, fallow deer or red deer), over 6 months old (group 1)

– 30 or more cows over 8 months old (Group 2)

– 15 or more horses for breeding (Group 3)

For those who comply, the application must be submitted to the Flemish Agricultural Investment Fund VLIF (L&V Electronic Office), in the context of unproductive investments. Please note: This is shown for each animal species.

All breeders who do not comply with the above must submit their applications via Natuur en Bos (see below). For example, a company with 100 head of cattle and 10 sheep that wants to make the meadows (meadows) wolf-resistant for sheep must apply to the ANB for a subsidy.

What is being repaid to large-scale livestock farmers? For group 1 animals, compensate a maximum of 400 meters per 5.5 animals to make a fixed standing wolf-proof fence or a 400-meter movable fence for every 50 animals. For cattle and horses (groups 2 and 3), a maximum of 1,600 meters of fencing is compensated to protect sick, injured or weak animals.

But please note: Applications are compiled every quarter and can only be executed after approval, unlike the ANB scheme for small-scale livestock farmers. Additional conditions are that the animals are in a danger zone, it must be at least €1,000, that the investment must last for 5 years and that there is no compensation for labor or maintenance. However, 100% of the investment costs will be reimbursed with a maximum of 4.8€/meter. The application must be submitted via the agricultural electronic counter.

Support scheme for hobbies and small-scale livestock farming through the Arab National Bank

You can already read about companies or hobbyists who can/should contact ANB. It is important that the investment is made first here and the reimbursement request should be submitted with accompanying documents only afterwards. Additional conditions are that compensation applies only to plots of land in the danger zone, that the costs must be at least 500 euros, that the closure must comply with the description in the ANB regulations (see website) and that they must also be in existence for the duration of 5 years. It must stay. One must also prove that he is the owner or tenant of the plot of land.

What livestock does the scheme apply to? Three groups are distinguished here: first lamb, goats, mouflons, caribou/dam, noble, sika, deer/ponies axle, donkeys, horses with a maximum height of 148 cm at withers. Secondly, sick or weak cows are in the entire danger zone, but their fencing is limited to 400 meters. Third, only cattle and horses are in a protective ring. Regarding the protective ring: Until 17/11/22 a protective ring has been assigned to 11 municipalities in North Limburg.

What is paid off? Adapting existing fence but limited to 400m for sick or weak livestock Compensation 90% of material cost and no labor compensation. There is also a fee for the new fencing, but only for a night net of a maximum of 400m per 50 animals and for the new fencing to replace a natural barrier such as along a stream, steep slope or thick hedge, where animals can’t pass through or more than that, but a wolf can .

As a rule, the support is limited to 4.8 euros per running meter, and for small breeders a one-time fee of 4.5 euros per running meter is also provided for maintenance. Everything must be ordered via a form which can be found at www.natuurenbos.be/wolf-schade.

Since approval in this case comes only after placement and many rules must be adhered to, we recommend that you check plans in advance with the Wolf-Fencing team or with the ANB to avoid disappointment later.

Andre Kalos

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