Farmers’ Union asks for measures to prevent wolf attacks


With the arrival of a third wolf in Flanders, and the death of several farm animals as a result, the Farmers’ Union wants the Flemish government to monitor and report their locations

Livestock ‘also deserve protection’

Following the deaths of two sheep and a cow this week, the Boerenbond (Farmers’ Union) is asking that the government closely monitor the whereabouts of the wolves known to be living in Flanders. A new wolf arrived in Antwerp province this spring, bringing the number of adult wolves living in the region to three.

But there is also a litter of pups, recently born to wolf pair Noëlla and August. It is not yet known how many pups were born.

August has been in Flanders for a couple of years, while Noëlla made her appearance just last winter. The two soon found each other, and pups have been born in a den somewhere in Limburg.

Wildlife experts know approximately where the den is located but are not making the information public as August’s previous mate, Naya, disappeared after camera footage showed that she was pregnant. The Flemish Agency for Nature and Woods believe that she was hunted down and shot.

Wolves have a remarkable sense of smell and are experts in taking down the weak prey

- Berlaar mayor Walter Horemans

Many sightings have confirmed that a new male wolf (pictured above) is in Antwerp province. He has been identified as having come from packs that roam the Alpine region of France, Switzerland and Italy.

Two sheep were killed in March, and DNA taken at the scene in Herentals, Antwerp province, shows that the wolf is responsible. This week two sheep were attacked and killed about 30 kilometres southwest of Herentals, in Duffel. And then yesterday a cow was killed in nearby Berlaar.

According to Jan Loos of the Landschap nature organisation, which runs the Welkom Wolf website, a single wolf would normally not be a match for a healthy cow. But this cow had just given birth.

Union wants digital platform

“She was in the field, and the blood that was still present was probably what attracted the wolf,” said Berlaar mayor Walter Horemans. “Wolves have a remarkable sense of smell. And this cow was also weak. Wolves are experts in taking down the weak prey.”

Farmers are compensated by the government of Flanders if they lose livestock to a wolf attack. There have also been rounds of subsidies to make their properties more wolf-proof.

The Boerenbond is now asking the government to monitor the whereabouts of the wolves and report the information so that farmers are aware when they are in the area. It also wants to see a digital platform that lists all attacks on livestock, the amount of the compensation, a comprehensive wolf plan and reimbursement of electronic fencing and other preventative measures.

“The wolf is protected by EU law,” said Sonja De Becker, chair of Boerenbond. “Our farm animals also deserve to be protected.”

Photo: Dutch amateur photographer Jan Rottiers waited hours in the area where the wolf had been spotted and was rewarded with a sighting