Wolf babies on the way, confirms wildlife agency


Flanders is expecting its first litter of wolf pups in more than 150 years, the Flemish Agency for Nature and Woodlands has confirmed

Historical moment

Limburg’s wolf couple Noëlla and August are expecting a litter as early as next week, according to the Flemish Agency for Nature and Woodlands. Nocturnal camera footage shows that Noëlla (pictured) is clearly heavy with child(ren).

It will be the first litter of wolves born in Flanders in at least 150 years. It is also a second chance to experience such a blessed event as Flanders’s last pregnant wolf disappeared without a trace last year.

Forest rangers assume that she was shot to death, having been responsible for deaths to livestock in Limburg. Her partner, August, found a new mate in Noëlla, who was first spotted in Limburg last December (hence the name).

While the more forested Wallonia has a few wolves living in its territory, Flanders has not seen a wolf population since the 19th century. The birth of a litter would be a positive sign that wolves finally find the region a hospital place to settle in.

We will be carefully monitoring the area. What the wolves need now is to be left alone

- Forest ranger Eddy Ulenaers

When footage showed a visible pregnant Noëlla, “my heart jumped out of my chest,” said Eddy Ulenaers of the Agency for Nature and Woodlands. “But that was immediately followed by concern. We know that not everyone values wolves the same way, so we have taken measures.”

The area in Limburg where there are signs that wolf dens have been made have been closed to the public and to hunters. “We will also be carefully monitoring the area,” said Ulenaers. “What the wolves need now is to be left alone.”

Ulenaers told VRT that he has never seen either of the wolves outside of footage from cameras that have been set up in forests to capture images of wildlife. And that’s best, he insists.

“If I see fresh footprints, I head in the other direction,” he says firmly. “I would never forgive myself if I spooked them and they ran in front of a car, for instance. Or if Noëlla found it necessary to move her pups because I’m in the neighbourhood. When they move, it’s usually at least a kilometre away, and it’s not the best place. Wolves are smart, so wherever they have chosen is already the best place. We want to keep it that way.”

Photo courtesy ANB/Inbo