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Wolf pups born, though unseen for now
Flanders' only wolf pair, dubbed Noëlla and August, are proud parents of newborn pups, environment minister Zuhal Demir has announced. Wildlife experts are not sure of the exact location of the den or how many pups there are.
They do know that the latest images of Noëlla caught on night vision cameras in the Limburg forest where the pair roam show that she is no longer pregnant. She and August were also clearly carrying food in their mouths to take back to the den.
The latest footage is from Sunday, while footage from the end of April showed a clearly pregnant Noella. This means that the pups were born sometime last week, as expected.
“Noëlla is in excellent health,” Demir told Radio 2 on Monday morning. “She is even hunting already with August.”
The pups will remain in the den for a few weeks before joining their parents on jaunts through the forest and on hunting expeditions. “The wolf had disappeared from Flanders for 150 years,” said Demir. “Environmental scientists and forest rangers have worked very hard to create a peaceful landscape for the wolf. This is really a milestone for Flemish wildlife.”
Demir is also concerned about the future of the wolf pair and their pups because of what happened last year to Naya, Flanders’ first pregnant wolf. After it was confirmed that she was expecting pups – also fathered by August – she disappeared without a trace.
Naya and August had been responsible for a few killings of sheep over an 18-month period, and wildlife experts believe that Naya, and possibly her pups, were deliberately shot and killed.
A wolf also killed a kangaroo on a farm in Antwerp province late last year. Demir has tightened up security in the area where the wolves are living, including establishing hunting-free zones and increasing wildlife inspections. Wolves are a protected species in Belgium and killing one can lead to heavy fines and a prison sentence.
“We hope this limits the risk to the wolves,” said Demir, “because we want them to regain a foothold in Limburg.”
Photo: Eurasian wolf pups such as the ones born to Noëlla and August