NOS . News•
After an increasing number of reports of (alleged) attacks by wolves on sheep and cows as well as ponies recently, fear of the wolf is growing in the northeastern Netherlands.
On Saturday morning, a foal was found dead in a meadow in the village of Drenthe in Wittelte, in the municipality of Westerfeld. The animal, which had been living on Jan and Wilma Busker’s farm for decades, was badly damaged.
Although it has not yet been officially confirmed that the wolf is the perpetrator of all the recent attacks, and not, say, a fox or a dog, many residents of Drenthe, Overijssel and Friesland are concerned about the presence of a predator in their province.
The Bosker couple, who run a dairy farm, also have no doubts: a coyote killed their foal. “The wolf was seen near our farm the night after the attack,” says Jean Busker. The couple shared photos of the attacked pony on Facebook.
“Everyone here is terrified of the wolf,” says the dairy farmer. “So all the entrepreneurs in the area put their cattle in stables at night. You don’t see little cattle and little cows outside.”
The fact that Bosker didn’t do this on the night from Friday to Saturday was because he was home alone. “And the pony was stubborn, and I couldn’t get it on my own.”
Busker won’t be the first pony to surrender in Drenthe after a wolf attack. On August 10, a foal was found dead in Dwingeloo. DNA tests later revealed that the animal had been bitten to death by a wolf.
Bij12 Regional Partnership maintains an overview of dead and injured farm animals, such as horses, chickens, cows and sheep, that may have been attacked by a wolf. Owners of affected animals can report this to the organization. Bij12 assesses whether there is a real chance of a wolf attacking animals and DNA testing can be done in this case.
If the wolf settled in Haagse Bos, there would be different reactions than now.
The wolf is a protected species in the Netherlands and should not be disturbed or killed. This is only allowed if there is an “individual problem wolf”, such as an animal that is aggressive towards people or has rabies.
Drenthe Henk Gummillet’s deputy said last week after a residents’ meeting about the wolf in Westerfield, shooting is not a problem. According to him, other options, such as chasing the animal away, are currently being investigated.
The MP said he was shocked by the unrest in Drenthe. In this regard, he points out a gap between conservatism and national politics. “If the wolf settled in Haagse Bos, it would react differently than now,” he said afterwards. “We also live in an area with many facilities, and there are concerns about that.”
Owners of agricultural (domestic) animals can receive compensation through Bij12 if it can be shown that their animals were attacked by a wolf. The RCO expects that keepers will take protective measures themselves, for example by installing night pens or fencing. Subsidies are also available for such measures.
But very few farmers seem to take advantage of it. According to Bij12, insufficient preventative measures have been taken in 95 percent of wolf damage cases in Drenthe.
Dairy farmer Jan Busker doesn’t see much in that either. “Making your entire company wolf-proof is possible in the worst case, but it should still be viable. It takes a lot of work and how far should you make such a fence, for example? If the wolf really wants it, he’ll come in.”
However, ecologist Glenn Lilyveld of the Dutch Wolves Reporting Center insists on the importance of prevention. “We think it’s very normal to put chickens in a coop, so why not do something with the sheep?”
According to Lillifeld, the wolf settled in Holland because our area seems to be suitable (again) for the animal. This also applies to the north-east of the Netherlands, where fewer preys like deer live than, say, a veloe. “Wolves love to eat roe deer, but so do hares,” Lillifeld says. “It adapts to what is there.”
According to Lelieveld, it stands to reason that the arrival of the wolf would be accompanied by emotion. “The animal is new here again and that leads to fear.” Ecologist argues for more participation, for example, sociologists in this issue. “The wolf is not an environmental problem, but we find the animal very difficult as a society and many fanciers feel it is misunderstood. We have to do something about it.”