Wolf-resistant fences reduce sheep kills

Wolves killed 80 sheep in Flanders in 2023, VRT NWS reports, compared to 149 in 2022. The decrease is particularly noticeable in Limburg, and is attributed to the increased installation of wolf-resistant fences.

Data from the Agency for Nature and Forestry (ANB) shows that this is the second year in a row that the number of animals killed by wolves has decreased. In addition, the number of deaths per predator has been decreasing for several years. In 2022, each wolf in Flanders killed an average of 15.2 animals, while in 2023, this figure dropped to 11.8.

In Limburg, about half of livestock farmers have installed wolf-resistant fences to protect their animals from attacks. The effectiveness of these barriers is evident, and the ANB is encouraging farmers in the Noorderkempen region to adopt similar measures.

Coexistence is possible

"We know a new wolf has recently become active in this region. This is evident from the increase in damage reports from that area," explains Frank Van Swalm of the ANB. The situation in Limburg shows that coexistence with wolves is possible if the necessary precautions are taken.

However, the EU will discuss the animal's protected status in the coming months. "The return of the wolf is good news for biodiversity, but the concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real threat, especially to livestock," said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

"Predation by wolves is affecting an increasing number of regions and is the main cause of conflict with humans"

That is why the European Commission recently proposed to downgrade the wolf's protection status from "strictly protected" to "protected". More than 20,000 wolves live in Europe, spread across packs in 23 member states.

"Predation by wolves is affecting an increasing number of regions and is the main cause of conflict with humans," the Commission noted. "While the overall level of damage to livestock at the national level seems acceptable, its concentration at the local level exerts strong pressure on certain areas and regions."

The proposal still has to be voted on by member states. A possible status change at the European level is not expected until the end of 2024.



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