First wolf seen in Flanders in 150 years


A wolf that crossed the border from Germany is almost certainly the culprit behind the attack that killed two sheep on a farm in Antwerp province

No threat to people

A wolf has been prowling around Limburg and the eastern part of Antwerp province over the last several weeks – the first in the region to be seen in at least 150 years. It has now been named as the culprit in the killing of two sheep at the weekend on a farm in Meerhout.

According to conservation organisation Landschap, which has launched a wolf contact desk, the female wolf is visiting from across the German border. She was first spotted in Flanders three weeks ago.

The wolf is one of many fitted with a GPS tracking system by German researchers. The system is slow, but yesterday it showed that the female wolf – called Naya – was in Meerhout, in the far east of Antwerp province, when the sheep were attacked early on Saturday morning.

Flemish researchers took DNA samples from the sheep to confirm that they were killed by a wolf. “Everything points to a wolf attack,” said Landschap in a statement at the weekend. “The method used to kill the sheep – with a bite to the neck – and the near surgical precision of the feeding, and also the wolf tracks that were found on the bank of a stream in the area.”

Although the DNA results have not yet been released, the GPS tracking puts the wolf in Meerhout at the time of the attack. It is the first time a wolf has killed livestock in Flanders since they disappeared from the region in the 18th century.

Snap a picture

“We can only hope that the frequency of this sort of attack will remain limited,” the organisation said, “and that the very few wolves that enter this region will prefer to hunt wild game.”

In the meantime, Landschap’s WelkomWolf contact desk has some advice for anyone who might happen upon a wolf while out for a stroll in the forest. Contrary to the experience of the hapless plane crash survivors in The Grey, wolves do not attack humans, it confirms.

The near surgical precision of the feeding points to a wolf attack

- Environmental organisation Landschap

Wolves avoid anything walking around on two feet, which they equate to bears, as they take to their hind legs in an encounter. Simply don’t aggravate the wolf, and it will lope away on its own, according to Landschap.

What WelkomWolf does want you to do is take a picture and send it to them so they can track the wolf’s movements.

House pets, cows and horses aren’t really in danger from a wolf attack either. Sheep are what’s on the menu, so farmers in the area are being advised to keep them indoors at night for the time being.

Photo: A Eurasian wolf such as the one prowling Flanders right now