In 2018, the first wolf in 100 years made its way into Belgium. This female wolf, named Naya, originated from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany, 500 km away. She wandered this distance in only 10 days and crossed the densely populated Netherlands on her way. Unfortunately, Naya was killed in 2019, probably by hunters. But this incident created a massive outcry in Belgium. Three NGOs and a private entrepreneur even offered € 30 000 as a reward for identifying the killer.
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Rosy future ahead?
Luckily, this can apparently not stop the re-establishment of wolves in Belgium. More and more wolves have been spotted since then. And the establishment of a pack might not be far away. In the Ardennes in the south -east of the country and in Limburg in the north-east, there are is a couple each. And Noella and August, the couple in Limburg, are even expecting cubs.
The government of Limburg took the necessary steps to secure the future of the pack. It passed some of the strictest laws worldwide to protect wolves in the region. Poachers face up to five years in prison and a fine of € 500 000. In addition, hunting of any kind is prohibited in wolf territory.
Belgium as the new crossroads for wolves
Belgium is a crucial country for the future of wolves in Europe. Even though it is densely populated, there is space for many wolves, especially in the Ardennes. If more packs establish, it could become a crossroads for wolves in Western Europe, connecting the French-Italian and the German-Polish population. This would be first time the populations could mix again after over 200 years of total seperation.
The small invasion comes from two sides at the same time. Wolves come from the south and from the east. This proves that Belgium is now really well on its way to become the wolf crossroads of Europe. “
At the moment, there are around 10 wolves in Belgium. Even though this is far away from a stable population, it shows that that the return of wolves is just a matter of time almost everywhere, if humans create suitable conditions.