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Lone wolf prowling Belgium’s forests

15:01 22/01/2018
A wolf is more than likely to blame for the death of two sheep in Antwerp province at the weekend, and a conservation organisation has released tips for what to do if you come face-to-face with the beast

A wolf has been prowling around the eastern part of Antwerp province over the last several weeks and has now appeared to have killed two sheep. The sheep were on a farm in Meerhout, on the border with Limburg, and were found dead on Saturday morning.

Wolves are an extremely rare sight in Belgium. According to conservation organisation Landschap, which has launched a wolf contact desk, this female is visiting from across the German border. She was first spotted three weeks ago.

The wolf is known to German researchers, which outfit wolves with GPS trackers. This particular wolf is called Naya.

That’s cold comfort to the Meerhout farmer, worried about the loss of more sheep. Researchers took DNA samples from the sheep to confirm that Naya is the culprit.

“Everything points to a wolf attack,” said Landschap in a statement. “The method of killing the sheep – with a bite to the neck – and the near surgical precision of the feeding, but also the wolf tracks that were found on the bank of a stream in the area.”

First wolf attack ever

If the identity of the predator can be confirmed, it will be the first time a wolf has ever killed livestock in Flanders. “We can only hope that the frequency of this sort of attack will remain limited,” the organisation said, “and that the very few wolves that enter this region will prefer to hunt wild game.”

In the meantime, the WelkomWolf contact desk has some advice for anyone who might happen upon a wolf while out for a stroll in the forest. Contrary to the experience of the hapless plane crash survivors in The Grey, wolves do not attack humans, it confirms.

Wolves avoid anything walking around on two feet, which they equate to bears, as they take to their hind legs in any encounter. Simply don’t aggravate the wolf, and it will lope away on its own.

What WelkomWolf does want you to do is take a picture and send it to them so they can track the wolf’s movements.

House pets, cows and horses aren’t really in danger from a wolf attack either. Sheep are what’s on the menu, so farmers in the area are being advised to keep them indoors at night for the time being.

UPDATE 24 January: The GPS tracker data puts Naya in Meerhout at the time of the attack on the sheep. DNA results are not yet available.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw