Successful protection of wolves in Germany and Poland also helps the Netherlands

The development of the Central European Wolf population is encouragingly good.I am gazing over the wide flat landscape – over plenty of water and low woods. Extensive meadows are grazed by sheep and cattle. I find myself standing in the heart of a nature conservation area in the Netherlands, very close to the German border.

I am here with a group of shepherds, other livestock farmers and representatives of authorities and nature conservation organizations. We are talking about the possibility of wolves showing up here. There would be an urgent need to react, because the actual fencing would not protect sheep sufficiently from a wolf attack.

The thought is not absurd at all, as a wolf was sighted recently not very far away. The development of the Central European Wolf Population  is encouragingly good. It´s just a matter of time until wolves living in the German states Lower Saxony and North-Rhine-Westphalia permanently reach the Netherlands and Belgium.

We need to be prepared.

Accordingly, I accepted the invitation of my Dutch colleague to a conference on wolves in the Netherlands. I reported on my longtime experience in my work about wolves, especially about herd protecting measures to avoid wolf attacks. I recommended properly working livestock guard dogs (at least 2 per herd) in combination with suitable electronic fences.

I also told my colleagues about the collaboration of IFAW, the federal state of Brandenburg and AG Herdendschutzhunde, who jointly published a guide on proper handling of livestock guard dogs. IFAW and “Almo Nature”, an Italian feed manufacturer, is also providing 20 tons of high-quality food for these dogs to AG Herdenschutzhunde until July 2015.

This is an important contribution to help defuse some of the conflicts with returning wolves.

Finally I explained the importance of competent support for livestock farmers on the spot, to respond to problems individually.

In discussions, it became clear; concerns of the shepherds and people in the Netherlands are as very similar to those in Germany. Together, we can now apply our experiences from our monitoring work in Poland to this expanded educational work to support and inform the shepherds and livestock farmers outside other areas of Germany, where the growth in wolf populations is soon expected.

We will work hard to continue the positive development for wolves in Europe this year.


For more information about Robert’s work with wovles, WATCH: tracking wolves in Western Poland

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