Thursday, June 11, 2015

France Raises its Wolf Cull After a Debated Attack on a 16-Year-Old Boy

An Italian wolf

In France, after twenty years since the wolf gained its foothold, there has been an ongoing dispute between farmers and environmental groups concerning the animal's impact on the country folks' livelihoods. Now, the country has been reported to increase its official cull of wolves after a rise in sheep deaths and a supposed - though contested - attack on a sixteen-year-old son of a farmer. One senior pro-wolf defender implied that the surrounding of the sixteen-year-old in the French Alps last Saturday by a wolf pack was a "hoax" executed by anti-wolf activists. However, whatever the truth, the French government is scheduled this week to announce the increase in culling of wolves by fifty percent in the next twelve months. The agriculture and environment ministers are also anticipated to lessen the rules which dictate when farmers can shoot the wolves. Environmental advocates called such a decision "grotesque", claiming that the wolf attack had been orchestrated with dogs (without the boy's knowledge) to bring refreshed pressure on the government. The supposed attack took place in the village of Seyne-les-Alpes, which is seventy miles north of Nice and close to where Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed. The farmer's son, Romain Ferrand, stated that he was surrounded by a pack of nine so-called wolves and four pups late at night when he went to check on his family's cattle. In response, he fired a shotgun in the air and the attackers retreated. He further added that they were wearing collars. According to Jean-Francois Darmstaedter, secretary general of a wildlife protection association called Ferus, the attack sounded like a hoax because the animals were wearing collars and that no wolf pups are born at this time of year.
The village of Seyne where the alleged attack on a 16-year-old son of a farmer.

The hatred towards wolves has really moved up to a whole new level through what appears to be in a devious and sinister way. A sixteen-year-old son of a farmer is allegedly attacked by a pack of "wolves" whom he described as wearing collars. Since when do wolves wear collars like their domestic descendants? Also, Mr. Darmstaedter indicated that wolf pups are not born at this time of year. These facts clearly indicate that anti-wolf activists, including farmers, probably came up with a dishonest way of pressuring and convincing the French government to allow them to hunt down wolves to protect their livelihoods. This hostile relationship dates back decades and in the 1930s, the last "native" wolf was killed in the Massif Central. However, the early 1990s saw a few Italian wolves which settled in the French Alps and are now believed to have increased to roughly 300 animals and forty packs, stretching as far west as the Auvergne region and north as the Vosges Mountains. Since then, farmers have always complained about the wolves' attacks on their livestock and wanted to retaliate by killing. A law established in 2004 only allowed government sharpshooters or licensed shepherds to shoot the animals. The shepherds were permitted only if they proved that their flocks were attacked two times in three years. Last year, the official cull was nineteen out of 24 allowable animals. But now, that figure has increased following this alleged attack with no solid proof whatsoever that wolves were either responsible or not on the attack of a farmer's son.
Livestock guardian dogs like this Great Pyrenees are a much safer alternative in protecting domestic livestock from wolves.

France needs to improvise its efforts in ensuring its farmers' well-being by coming with safer alternative solutions in dealing with wolves. The best and straightforward method should be to employ livestock guardian dogs to protect the shepherds' flocks. Shooting wolves would not help on the long run, especially when farmers and government marksmen kill what could be alpha members which would cause a pack to go into disarray resulting in wolves continuously attacking livestock with no signs of stopping. Furthermore, this matter of an alleged wolf attack needs to be thoroughly investigated in order to determine if wolves were responsible for attacking the sixteen-year-old or it was a ruse to pressure the government to allow farmers and shepherds to shoot wolves indiscriminately. And if this incident happens to be a gimmick, then the perpetrators should be severely prosecuted and given a stiff prison sentence. Wolves are apex predators and their main function is to ensure the balance in an ecosystem by keeping prey populations in check. Without their existence, the natural ecosystem of France and rest of Europe would be negatively affected.

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