On August 9th in Cipières (France), the ONCFS (National Office for Hunting and Wildlife) killed three wolf cubs. Officials killed the cubs, barely three months old, as an act of ‘defending’ the local sheep herd. Although wolf cubs are not able to kill a sheep at that age, the environmental officers believed that their wolf pack was specialised on feeding on the local herd.
The ONCFS’ official statement from August 16th reports that over 40 attacks on the herd have been recorded. In response, the French National Wolf Brigade came for aid, after protection measures from the farmer were ineffective. Two officers and a lieutenant from the Wolf Brigade spent the night at the herd, finding 5 wolves approaching it. They shot approximately 100 bullets at the wolves, aiming for the young ones. It is stated that “The shooting of young wolves is indeed recommended, especially because these shots do not risk to destruct the [wolf]pack in place.”
The Collective of Associations for the Protection of the Wolf in France (CAP Loup) highly questions the circumstances, under which the ONCFS killed young cubs. Last week, CAP Loup delivered a letter to the ONCFS, and the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture that supervise the ONCFS. They demand for further information and details on the killings. It raises the questions (1) why only young wolves were targeted, (2) if the wolves posed a direct threat to the sheep during the shooting, and (3) if more herd protection measures will be implemented in the future. The trust in the so-called ‘Wolf’ Brigade is lost, for good reasons.
40 wolves killed since July 2016
The French government authorised the official slaughter of 40 wolves in little more than a single year. With only less than 300 wolves in France, the impact jeopardises the conservation and protection of this species. The government allows killing under ‘defensive shooting’, but this will not reduce the depredation of livestock. On the contrary, as described in this post about wolves in Germany.
Wolves do not specialise on herds
There is no scientific proof that wolves specialise on killing sheep. Although sheep are an easy meal, proper protection measures like an electric fence and guarding dogs, normally stops the wolves. As a hunter, the wolf avoids as much risk as possible. Once a wolf gets injured, it is as good as dead. Of course there will always be an exception, but the claimed 40 attacks on the French herd indicate that protection is clearly insufficient. The solution is not the killing of wolves, neither young or old. Wolves help nature to restore balance.