A radio-collared wolf from Germany has made its way into Belgium. A premiere, as this is the first confirmed evidence that a wolf visits the country in 100 years. Back in 2011, a wolf may have visited the country already. However, this was never confirmed with DNA-analysis. The collared wolf crossed the German-Dutch border around Christmas, before it crossed the Dutch-Belgian border on January 2nd. This individual is another confirmation that the wolf population is returning to its former distribution. Recently, people in the Netherlands recorded a wolf in a Dutch nature reserve. Also, scientists confirmed the presence of the returning wolf in Luxembourg since 124 years.
Please also read: Wolf spotted in Dutch nature reserve!
Wandering in the lowlands
Scientists collared the young wolf in October 2016 in the north-eastern province Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Dutch wolf-organisation ‘Wolven in Nederland‘ confirmed that this is a young female wolf, named Naya, of approximately 2 years old. The wolf managed to wander over 500 km in just 10 days. What is even more stunning, is that she was able to cross the densely populated Netherlands, without people noticing her. As she entered the Netherlands in the north, and left in the south, she must have crossed numerous roads. Vehicle collisions with wolfs are still one of the highest mortality causes, as we learn from German research. In 2017/2018 already more than 24 wolves died from car collisions in Germany.
Belgium military zone
The collar confirmed that the wandering wolf Naya was near a military zone in Beringen. It seems that Naya is not the first wolf to prefer military zones. In Austria and Germany, wolf packs established in (former) military zones as well. The often forest rich areas host more wildlife and have less human disturbances. Whether Naya will stay in this area is unclear. Like other young wolves, Naya is exploring new regions to start her own wolf pack.
Wolf all over Europe
Belgium was the last European country that has now confirmed evidence of wolf presence. Although wolf packs did not settle in every country yet, it will only be a matter of time. The returning wolf causes concern amongst livestock owners, who are afraid to lose their animals. However, proper herd protection and management has shown to be very effective. Herd management is even more effective than killing wolves, studies showed. Instead of killing wolves, coexistence strategies must be developed with all stakeholders, like in Germany recently. Read more about the wolf in an exclusive interview, here.