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Wolf pups captured on camera for first time
New footage from wildlife cameras has confirmed that Flanders’ wolf pair, Noëlla and August, have four pups. While it was known that the pups had been born, it was not known how many, or if any, had survived.
It is the first time in 150 years that wolves have been born in Belgium. “It is an historic moment for nature policy in Flanders,” environment minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) told VRT. “Finally, a wolf has produced offspring in the country. Heartwarming.”
Flanders’ Nature and Forest Agency released the footage, recorded in Limburg in the area of the wolves’ den. Wildlife experts will make no effort to find the exact location of the den, it said.
“Raising wolf pups requires an enormous amount of energy from the parents, who must concentrate on feeding them,” said the agency in a statement. “So any interference right now is out of the question.”
Concerned about the wolves’ safety after the suspicious disappearance of a pregnant wolf last year, neither Nature and Forest nor the Landschap nature organisation – which runs the Welkom Wolf campaign – are releasing details on the location of the den. It is known that it is in an area called Bosland in the north of the province.
“I hope that the pups can grow up undisturbed,” Demir said, referring to the new family as the “Bosland Daltons”.
While about 10 wolves are seen regularly prowling around Wallonia, which is more heavily forested, Flanders is home to just three: Noëlla, August and another male that popped up a few months ago, dubbed Billy. It was reported last week that Billy had been hit by a car in the Turnhout area, but he was apparently not badly injured as footage captured afterwards shows him loping around.
Hunting association Hubertus Vlaanderen is hoping that the birth of the pups means a lifting of the hunting ban in the area. Demir enforced the ban in all of the military domains in Limburg to ensure that the wolves could settle in a den and that the pups could be born in peace and safety. It ends on 30 June, and the association is hoping it will not be extended.
“The pups are not on all of that land,” said Maarten Goethals of Hubertus. “We would very much like to resume hunting in the area that is not home to the wolves.”
Goethals points to the increasing wild boar population, kept in check every year through controlled hunting. Wild boar are responsible for a great deal of damage to farmland and gardens.
“The wild boar population can double in six months’ time,” said Goethals. “They are a real nuisance, and we can keep the problem under control through hunting.”
Photo courtesy Inbo/ANB