Denmark to tag wolves in effort to learn more about returning species

Researchers in Denmark are to fit wolves with satellite navigation receivers as part of information gathering authorities hope will alleviate the concerns of local residents and farmers.

Denmark to tag wolves in effort to learn more about returning species
Photo: DesignPicsInc/Depositphotos

Aarhus University has been given special permission by the Environmental Protection Agency (Miljøstyrelsen) to fit up to ten wolves with satellite navigation tags until March 2020, Ritzau reports.

The study will seek to improve knowledge of the habits and behaviour of the Danish wolves and how commonly they move close to people.

Wolves returned to wild areas in Denmark earlier this decade after being absent from the Scandinavian country for well over a century.

Tagging the wolves with satellite navigation equipment will also shed light on the size of the current population of the animal, the Ministry of Environment and Food wrote in a press statement.

“I understand why many people feel concerned. Particularly those who live close to the wolves. I would too,” minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen told Ritzau.

“The aim of this study is to find out more about where the wolves go and whether there’s any need to feel nervous.

“We want to find out whether there are wolves that are not instinctively shy of people,” he added.

Although the species is protected in Denmark and may therefore not normally be captured, this is permitted in association with research.

The Wildlife Administration Council (Vildtforvaltningsrådet) at Ellemann-Jensen’s ministry is currently working on new guidelines for regulating the animal in cases where an individual is deemed to be a ‘problem wolf’, in accordance with a new definition released by the ministry earlier this year.

“The government is aware of the challenges the wolves bring. I have already taken the first steps towards more flexible regulation of wolves, taking into account the fact that wolves are now breeding in Denmark again,” the minister said in the press statement.

“I will also discuss the EU’s wolf regulation with other EU countries that are experiencing challenges related to the presence of wolves. It will also be advantageous to know more about Danish wolves’ behaviour here,” he added.

READ ALSO: Danish zoo director advises against wolf 'panic measures'


France’s wolf population rises once again

France's wild wolf population rose again last year, with officials counting 580 adults at winter's end compared with an average of 530 a year ago, France's OFB biodiversity agency said Tuesday.

France's wolf population rises once again
A woman holds an image of a wolf as people take part in a demonstration of several wildlife conservation associations, to protest against the hunting of wolves. AFP

The government has been allowing grey wolves to multiply despite fierce resistance from livestock owners, who say they are suffering from increased attacks on their flocks.

But this winter's increase was slower than the 23 percent jump seen the previous year, and “survival rates declined,” the OFB said, adding that the causes remained unknown.

Wolves were hunted to extinction in France by the 1930s, but gradually started reappearing in the 1990s as populations spread across the Alps from Italy.

Their numbers have grown rapidly in recent years, prompting authorities to allow annual culls to keep their numbers in check, though the predator remains a protected species.

READ ALSO: Where in France will you find wolves?

Under a “Wolf Plan” adopted in 2018, the “viability threshold” of 500 animals, the level at which the population is likely to avoid becoming at risk of extinction over a 100-year period, was not expected to be reached until 2023.

Wolves are increasingly spotted across French territory, from the Pyrenees mountains as far north as the Atlantic coastal regions near Dieppe.

But “there are still no packs formed outside the Alps and Jura,” the heavily forested region near the Swiss border, the agency said.

The numbers are far below those found in Italy, Romania or Poland, but they have nonetheless infuriated French farmers who say the wolves are decimating their flocks.

Last year, authorities registered 3,741 wolf attacks that led to the deaths of nearly 12,500 animals, mainly sheep.

The government offers compensation for the losses and has set up a range of measures to protect flocks, including patrols by “wolf brigades” in areas where traditional anti-wolf measures, such as dogs, fenced-off areas and 
additional shepherding, have failed.

That has not been enough to assuage the powerful FNSEA agriculture lobby and other groups, which say they have to wait too long for compensation payments in the face of repeated attacks on their livelihood.