• 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

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)

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 claim success in Isis air raids
Photo: AFP/ECPAD/EMA/ARMEE DE L'AIR

French claim success in Isis air raids

France's Chief of the Defense Staff Pierre de Villiers has claimed that air strikes on Thursday and Friday by French, US and allied aircraft "hurt" Islamic State forces. READ  

French website exposes EU budget letter
French President Francois Hollande. Photo: AFP

French website exposes EU budget letter

A confidential letter sent to France by the EU Commission demanding clarifications on its 2015 budget, which will break EU spending rules, was unveiled Friday by a French news website. READ  

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders
Front National president Marine Le Pen speaks to the press during a visit in the city of Calais, northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders

National Front leader Marine Le Pen visited the northern port city of Calais on Friday where tensions are high as authorities under increasing pressure to control the influx of illegal migrants trying to get to Britain. READ  

Burglar in the buff snared by French police
A burglar in the buff was snared red handed and bare-bottomed by French police this week. Photo: Shutterstock

Burglar in the buff snared by French police

French police were called out to a bizarre incident this week when they received calls from scared residents in villages in central France alerting them to the presence of a burglar who was targeting homes in the buff. READ  

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'
A passenger arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport is checked for Ebola. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'

French president François Hollande said on Friday that measures to counter the risk of Ebola reaching France will be increased with tests to be carried out on people arriving in France on “all forms of transport”, meaning boats as well as planes. READ  

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'
France and its allies "hurt" Isis forces in Iraq, French military chief has said. Photo: AFP

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'

The leader of France's armed forces said his country's military "hurt" Isis forces in a recent raid led by the international coalition battling the extremists in Iraq. READ  

What's on in France
What's on in France: 11 things to do in November
The annual cider festival in Le Sap Normandy, just one of the many things to do in France in November. Photo: JCMayzaud

What's on in France: 11 things to do in November

If you're short of ideas for what to do in France in November, we've gathered together a list of 11 events that are well worth checking out, especially if you're into art, wine, music or just can't wait to get in the Christmas spirit. READ  

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining
Relations between France and Saudi Arabia could soon be strained if Paris thieves are not stopped. Photo: Dominic Faget/AFP

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining

A man working for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Paris had a whopping €15,000 in cash stolen while dining out in the city on Tuesday afternoon. He’s just the latest Saudi national to be targeted by thieves in France. READ  

Budget row: EU asks France for more details
Hollande and his PM Manuel Valls will have to convince Brussels their 2015 budget is in order. Photo: AFP

Budget row: EU asks France for more details

French President Francois Hollande said his country had received an EU Commission letter asking for clarifications over its 2015 budget, which forecasts that France will miss the deficit targets laid by Brussels by a wide margin. READ  

Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France
It's no joke. Clown panic is spreading across France. Photo: Shutterstock

Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France

Police arrested five armed youths in a town in eastern France this week who were hunting for “aggressive clowns” who were reportedly threatening locals. It’s just the latest incident in France where reports of armed clowns has spread panic. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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