New year, new wolf: Festive arrival confirmed in Limburg


Environment minister proposes Noël or Noëlla as a name for the new wolf who is setting up house in Flanders

Jogging with wolves

A new wolf has arrived in Flanders, the Agency for Nature and Woodlands (ANB) confirmed this week. The animal was first spotted by a jogger in the neighbourhood of Oudsbergen, in Limburg. Subsequent investigations by wildlife specialists found fresh paw prints in the area.

“Not a white Christmas, but a wolf Christmas,” tweeted Zuhal Demir, Flanders’ environment minister. She went on to suggest a name: “Welcome Noël(la)?”

The Duinengordel nature reserve, where the paw prints were found, is close to the territory of August (pictured), the male wolf whose mate Naya was apparently killed by hunters during the summer. Specialists from the Nature and Forest Research Institute examined the new prints and confirmed that they were made by a wolf, but not by August.

Going by the size, the prints could have been made by a female wolf or a young male. If it is female, there is a chance that she will pair up with August, who has been seen in the area as recently as last week.

However it is also possible that the wolf will move on and establish new territory elsewhere, ANB said.

Good fences

The government took the opportunity to remind farmers to take measures to protect their livestock from possible wolf attacks. Effective fences are enough to discourage wolves, which do not normally prey on farm animals.

So far this year the agency has received 26 reports of attacks on livestock, 14 of which were found to have involved a wolf. In all cases the animals were insufficiently protected, for example by not being confined by an electric fence.

Compensation payments to farmers reached €2,400 in 2019. Subsidies and practical support are also available for farmers to take preventative measures.

Photo: A rare image of August in daylight