• France edition
 
Wolves to be 'educated' not to kill sheep
A wolf spotted in the Mercatour Park, south west France . Photo Valery Hache/AFP

Wolves to be 'educated' not to kill sheep

Published: 07 Feb 2013 08:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Feb 2013 08:59 GMT+01:00

In a bid to try and crackdown on the number of wolf attacks on farm animals the French government has announced a plan to try and "educate" the wild beasts. The proposal has been greeted with mixed reactions.

Can you teach a wolf not to eat sheep?

The idea is being floated in France, where the return of the wolf has got farmers and environmentalists at each other's throats.

Under a proposed "National Wolf Plan," the government says it will conduct experiments into "educating" the canine carnivore, which is spreading stealthily in remote areas.

Rest assured, this scheme does not entail lecturing wolves about the cuteness of lambs or trying to convert them to vegetarianism.

Instead, it entails capturing individual wolves that are known to attack a local flock and then marking these bothersome predators before letting them go.

The theory is that the animal will be so traumatised by the experience that it will leave the sheep alone and instead hunt for deer, boar, rabbits and other wild animals.

But if the wolf remains a problem, the ID makes it easier to be singled out and shot.

"Eleven of France's regional parks have said they are willing to take part in the experiments," Ecology Minister Delphine Batho said this week, as the proposal met a mixed reception.

Once plentiful, the wolf officially died out in France in the 1930s, wiped out by farmers and hunters.

More than a half a century later, wolves began creeping back, crossing the border from Italy. In 1992, suspicions of the comeback were confirmed when a pair of wolves were spotted in the Mercantour park in the southeast of the country.

Around 250 wolves in France

Today, according to Eric Marboutin at the National Office for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS), there are around 250 wolves, 90 percent of them in the Alps, and scatterings of others in the east and southwest of France, including the eastern Pyrenees.

In 2011, a wolf was spotted for the first time in the Vosges, in eastern France, and last year, a wolf was photographed in a cornfield in the southwestern department (county) of Gers, the westernmost point of the species' advance.

The wolf is shielded by the Bern Convention on European wildlife, and in 2007 it joined other mammals on a list of species that in France are given special protection, except in specific cases where they pose a threat.

But flocks are under rising pressure as the wolves expand.

Two powerful groups -- the agricultural lobby and the environmental movement -- are fiercely at odds, despite efforts to forge consensus in a "National Wolf Group" that includes politicians.

Emotions flared last month in the upper house of the French parliament, where rural regions are strongly represented.

Senator Pierre Bernard-Reymond of the High Alps region blasted Parisians for what he said was their cosy image of an ancient predator.

"It's time to release a few wolfpacks in the Vincennes Park or the Luxembourg Gardens," he said -- a suggestion that was not adopted.

In 2008, 2,680 sheep were killed by wolves, according to an official count; this rose to 4,920 in 2011 and 5,848 in 2012, when the state paid out compensation of around two million euros ($2.7 million).

At present, 11 wolves are allowed to be shot each year. Anti-wolvers say that this restriction is far too inflexible.

Under the 2013-2017 plan, the figure would be adjusted in line with scientific estimates of what is a sustainable wolf population.

"The wolf is and will remain a species that is strictly protected," the ecology and agricultural ministries said in a joint statement.

"However, bearing in mind the healthy population dynamics of this species, it is possible to fine-tune the methods for managing it."

Capturing and marking a problem animal would mean that only the real culprits would be targeted. Or so it is hoped.

Jean-Jacques Blanchon of the pro-wolf Nicolas Hulot Foundation said wolf education had worked successfully in pilot experiments in the United States, "so we should make the effort to see what it can do for us."

Don't bother, retorted others.

"You might as well try to educate a shark," said Daniel Spagnou, a member of a commission probing the fraught relationship between wolves and mountain herdsmen.

"What a circus! Whatever next? Wolf-tamers?"

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

2013-02-28 21:21:30 by Flatdog
I wish they would introduce wolves back into Britain. With the recent law against Fox Hunting, it will not be long before a human baby is killed. Several have been attacked and mutilated since the ban on hunting foxes was made law, despite foxes being classified as vermin, just as rats are.

Wolves used to kill foxes, but they were exterminated several hundred years ago in the UK, so hunting foxes with dogs became necessary in order to manage the fox population in a similar way to how the wolves used to do it.

That's now prevented by ignorant urban bunny huggers. I wonder how they will handle the idea of wolves when they want to go on a camping weekend in the Sherwood Forest?
Today's headlines
French slang: Everyday words you need to know
French slang - here's a list of words you need to know but perhaps should be careful about using. Photo: Shutterstock

French slang: Everyday words you need to know

As if learning French wasn't hard enough, the language of Molière has a wealth of informal slang words, that you should know as well - even if it's to avoid saying them in case you offend someone. Here we've picked some of the most common everyday words and translated them into French slang. READ () »

JobTalk France - Tax returns
French tax declarations: Key things to remember
What to remember when filling in your French tax declarations. Photo: Shutterstock

French tax declarations: Key things to remember

It's that time of the year again. The 2013 "Declarations des Revenues" forms will be popping through your letter boxes in the coming days so we have asked a French tax expert to let us know the most important things to remember when it comes to filing your tax returns. READ () »

British firm to shut French cigarette factory
One of France's iconic cigarette brands will soon mostly be made abroad. Photo: Der Wunderbare Mandarin/Flickr

British firm to shut French cigarette factory

A British tobacco company will close one of its factories in France that makes Gauloises cigarettes, meaning the signature French brand will be made almost exclusively abroad. READ () »

French MEP: EU means 'porn without borders'
A European Parliament from France sees 'porn without borders' as good thing in EU. Photo: M_Max/Flickr

French MEP: EU means 'porn without borders'

For a French member of European Parliament one of the key benefits of an EU without borders is easier access to porn movies, according to an interview he gave to a local newspaper. READ () »

French TV viewers resent needless use of English
French public are not happy about the over use of English on TV and radio. Photo: Patrick Herzog/AFP

French TV viewers resent needless use of English

In its annual report released this week French TV and radio regulators revealed that French language and culture regularly suffers as the sector expands and that viewers’ main cause for complaint is the unnecessary use of English. READ () »

French to help Britain treat nuclear waste
A French company is going to help Britain build a nuclear waste treatment facility. Photo: Avail/Flickr

French to help Britain treat nuclear waste

French nuclear power group Areva said on Tuesday it will help build a plant to treat radioactive waste at a facility in northwest England. READ () »

Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh area
A Police in a posh Paris neighborhood have been ordered to 'purge' Roma people. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh area

Police in Paris’s posh 6th arrondissement have been ordered to count up Roma people and “systematically purge” them from the area, media reports said on Tuesday. The public outrage prompted by the orders forced France's top cop to wade into the row. READ () »

'Dangerous' mascot eagle banned from stadium
The "dangerous" eagle in full flight before a Nice match this season. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

'Dangerous' mascot eagle banned from stadium

French authorities have barred Nice football club's pre-match ritual of flying an eagle before each match on health and safety grounds, claiming the club mascot is a danger to the public. Nice are refusing to abide by the decision. READ () »

Paris: Iconic Lutetia hotel closes for major revamp
The iconic Le Lutetia hotel in Paris, which will close for three years to be renovated. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Paris: Iconic Lutetia hotel closes for major revamp

Another one of Paris's iconic luxury hotels has closed for major renovations. After the Ritz and the Crillon shut their doors for a makeover this week the famous Le Lutetia followed suit. READ () »

Lock of Napoleon's hair stolen from museum
An actor plays former French Emporer Napoleon at a recent reenactment in France. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Lock of Napoleon's hair stolen from museum

A lock of Napoleon Bonaparte's hair and other "priceless" artefacts linked to the French emperor have been stolen from a museum in Australia, police said on Tuesday. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Advertisement:
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
Society
Innocent dating or pimping? French 'sugar babies' site hit with lawsuit
National
Chef Gordon Ramsay seeks expat Kitchen Nightmares in France
Society
Barking mad? Dog testifies in court in French murder case
Society
When a kids' game of hide and seek goes horribly wrong
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se