At least seven new wolves discovered in Wallonia
Two new litters of wolf pups have been spotted in the south of Belgium, with observation cameras showing that at least seven pups have been born.
The Walloon Public Service (SPW) announced on Friday that, as expected, the two wolf pairs in the wolf Permanent Presence Zone in the High Fens of the Ardennes had bred and given birth to pups this spring.
Photographs show that the litter of male Akela and female Maxima has at least five cubs. Akela was first spotted in the area in June 2018. Maxima appeared later in 2020. Both wolves are of German-Polish descent. The pair also gave birth to pups in 2021 and 2022.
The second pair of wolves, known as the Eifel wolves, consisting of a daughter of Akela and Maxima from their first litter and a male of Italian-Alpine origin, gave birth to two pups. "In both cases, the pups are probably between three and four months old," the SPW said. "Various clues have been collected in the field and sent to a laboratory for genetic analysis. They may allow us to refine these observations, both in terms of numbers and sex."
"This period can be sensitive for neighbouring farms as the adults will try to find food as quickly as possible"
Cubs are often born in May and stay in their den for a month. In order to feed the pups, the parents intensify their hunting to feed their young and meet their essential physiological needs.
In some cases, they will attack other animals. "This period can be sensitive for neighbouring farms as the adults, in a hurry to feed their offspring, will try to find food as quickly as possible," the SPW said.
"There have been two attacks on domestic animals since the cubs were born"
To reduce the risk to local people, for several years the SPW and the non-profit organisation NATAGRIWAL have been carrying out preventive measures to help farmers protect themselves from attacks, including installing fences.
"So far this summer, there have been two attacks on domestic animals since the cubs were born, one on a sheep in Jalhay and two others in Bütgenbach," the SPW said. "We will have to wait until the end of September to make a final assessment."
It added: "This is obviously still two attacks too many, but with two flocks in the region, it is much less than the eight attacks recorded during the first census in Wallonia in the summer of 2021. This is proof that the prevention work is bearing fruit."
A pup from the previous litter of wolves Akela and Maxima in 2022 © BELGA PHOTO HANDOUT SERVICE PUBLIC DE WALLONIE