“Discussion takes on black, pet-like features”

The wolf is causing a growing division in the Netherlands, even among nature lovers themselves. In Hoge Veluwe they want to get rid of the animal as quickly as possible, in Dwingelderveld they see the wolf as an enrichment of nature. double report. “You can shoot them, but then new ones will appear.”

Sander van Mersbergen

Two nature parks, two leaves, two completely different floors. In the morning at National Park Dwingelderveld in Drenthe we get the brochure printed by Barbara, the guide at Natuurmonumenten. The substance of her argument: the wolf is a beautiful animal, one we should particularly enjoy. We’re talking about a lot of fear. But most of it is based on legends.”

In the afternoon in the Hoge Veluwe National Park, the post is at the exit of the “Save the mouflon” exhibition. The gist of this story: The wolf must leave as quickly as possible, because the animal has caused a bloodbath among the shepherds since its return. “Wolves exterminate the molars.”


Ergo: Even among conservationists there is disagreement. The debate between supporters and opponents of the wolf is now so high in the Netherlands that it develops black, house-like traits. A lecture on wolves last week in Dwingelderveld was canceled due to threats on social media. “This was of a nature that she wasn’t really responsible for letting it go ahead,” says a spokesperson for Natuurmonumenten.

The Saturday morning trip will continue to delight the participants. Supported by the low autumn sun, the largest desert wetlands of Western Europe appear in all their splendor. The guide Barbara is also excellent at her job. Not that she ever met a wolf herself, by the way. “The only wolves I saw were in the movie dancing with the wolves. I estimate the chance that you will see one today is 0.001%.”

wolf path

What you are going to teach us today is how to recognize a wolf’s path. And what kind of animal is it, in fact, that much-discussed four-legged friend that came into our nature from the East in 2018. According to Barbara, we suffer from “Little Red Riding Hood Syndrome” in the Netherlands. “When we think of a wolf, we immediately think of something frightening. Unwarranted. My advice, if you ever come across a wolf in nature: Enjoy! Marvel!”

She says the wolf is not a threat in nature, but he will avoid us as much as possible. “He will not search for us alone. Therefore, the stupidest thing we can do is feed the wolves. Then they associate humans with food and they will visit us. If we put food for the wolf, we actually kill it. As soon as the wolf gets close to people, it will be shot.”


She tells Barbara about the natural behavior of the wolf: its diet, the composition of the herd, the great distances it travels, and the tricks it uses to mark its territory. Each package covers an area of ​​200 to 300 square kilometres. Dwingelderveld has an area of ​​40 square kilometers and is therefore only part of this habitat. So shooting a wolf is meaningless. Just another wolf in his place. In principle, wolves determine their numbers based on the food supply.”

Go and tell us about it at Hoge Veluwe, our next stop. There, the park administration is campaigning against the wolf, or rather: for the mouflon. This wild sheep of southern European origin, which was brought to Philoy a century ago, has a crucial role as it is the only shepherd who consumes Scots pine. Without mouflin, wild growth would arise in Philo, meaning that other unique plants and animals would be under stress.

Mourns on the Hoge Veluwe.stomps joke picture

Since two wolves roamed the Hoge Veluwe, the mouflon is no longer sure of its life, so its biodiversity is more threatened than it really is. “The wolf prefers to search for harmless prey that is easy to obtain in its habitat,” the park reports. “In the Veluwe, these are mouflons because, like sheep kept, they cannot run fast.” The numbers shown in the graphs on the wall are really interesting. In 2021, there were still 339 flying animals, this year only 171. This cannot go on for years, they believe in Veloy.

Visitors to the fair can sign a petition to the national and provincial government. He requests permission to “remove” the wolf from the garden. This is not allowed now, because the wolf has a protected status in Europe.

tacit accusation

By the way, it is still a mystery how the wolf managed to get to the Hoge Veluwe in the first place. The garden is fenced on all sides. According to the park management, the wolf almost certainly did not pass over or under the fence. “The only other option is that the wolves entered the garden with the help of evil people,” this is the implicit accusation made in the last panel of the exhibition.

According to the park management, the wolves must have been smuggled in by car, or by cutting holes in the net around the park. “This fact alone should be enough to give the park an exemption to remove the wolves.”


And so the discussion about the wolf became increasingly unfriendly. On the contrary, they recently received a claim in Veluwe. To the horror of visitors, one of the park’s wolves is increasingly seen with people, and the park could have had a hand in this by intentionally feeding the animal. For example, the animal could have been consciously tamed, and they would be able to prove that the wolf is a danger, so shooting is the best option. The park manager described the accusation in Norwegian Refugee Council By the way as a “nonsense”.

Back in Dwingelderveld, Barbara wisely keeps to herself. What you know: Man finds it very difficult to face the laws of nature. “The wolf may have been gone 150 years ago, but it has come back on its own. We will have to get used to it. And yes, that also means we have to protect sheep and other livestock better, with better fencing. I also bring my chickens indoors at night. to prevent it from being eaten.

financial support

Such a fence costs money, but according to Natuurmonumenten, this is only part of the price of raising animals. Moreover, Barbara says: There is support available from the government, and there are volunteers who want to help. “We humans always take the blame. As if the wolf can do something about it. We just have to take our responsibility, accept that we can’t always bind nature to our will.”

Did this logic help the mouflons on the Hoge Veluwe? To ask a question is to answer it. And so the wolves debate will continue for a while, even within the nature-loving Netherlands.

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