Naya the wolf ‘probably dead’ says nature agency


Hunters are suspected of deliberately seeking out and killing Naya and her cubs

No trace

Naya, the wolf that has been living in Limburg province for at least the last 18 months, is probably dead, along with her cubs. The Flemish Agency for Nature and Woods announced on Monday that it had found no trace of the wolf family in recent months, and that it suspects foul play in their disappearance.

“We assume with near certainty that the animals are no longer alive,” the agency said in a statement, adding that its Nature Inspection Unit thinks Naya was killed deliberately. “The wolves were in an inaccessible location where, in principle, people would not have been present. The act was therefore well-prepared, by professionals.”

The wolf and her mate, August, have been responsible for killing several sheep in Limburg over the last year. Last spring, government aid was offered to farmers to build special fencing.

Naya was last seen on camera before the summer, clearly pregnant. She then disappeared, but her mate, August, was observed fetching and carrying food. At a certain point he stopped, and the more time that passed without Naya or the cubs being seen, the more concerned the agency’s inspectors became.

The perpetrators of this environmental crime deliberately entered their territory to kill them

- Agency for Nature and Woods

Over the summer, forest wardens and the inspectors kept a special eye out for traces of the wolves, and images from cameras set up to catch their movements were examined closely. In September drones were used to conduct a more detailed search, again without results.

Since the cubs would now be more than four months old and very active, the lack of sightings seems conclusive. Meanwhile, August has been seen regularly but is starting to behave like a lone wolf.

In parallel, the agency has investigated the possibility that the wolves may have fallen ill and died of natural causes, or that they may have been deliberately poisoned. With neither option likely, suspicion now falls on hunters.

“If the female wolf has been killed, it must be assumed that the perpetrators of this environmental crime deliberately entered her territory, specifically to find her in her lair, with her cubs, and to kill them there,” the agency said.

The investigation will now continue with a view to apprehending those responsible for killing the wolves. Naya was the first wolf spotted in Flanders in 150 years.