Belgian Farmers Decry Increasing Wolves Population’s Danger To Livestock

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News in brief: The return of wolves to Belgium, after a century-long absence, is causing tensions with farmers concerned about livestock safety and they want to reopen the debate on wolf hunting in Europe.

Wolves have returned to Belgium after a century-long absence, but their growing presence is causing tensions with farmers, who fear for the safety of their livestock.

Farmers want to reopen the debate on wolf hunting in Europe, according to a news report. The activity is currently banned under both the European Union’s (EU) Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitat.

The leader of the Farmers Association of Eastern Belgium, Ingrid Mertes, told local media that wolves do not belong in the farmers’ fields and the debate on wolf hunting in Europe should be reconsidered.

Earlier this year, the European Commission called for a review of the protected status of wolves, as some members think the growing population poses a danger to livestock.

Joachim Mergeay, a wildlife expert from the Institute for Nature and Forest Research, follows the everyday lives of wolves in Belgium. He argues that they represent a low risk to the economy and the current tension is caused by humans no longer being used to living near them.

Mergeay explained that contact between livestock and wolves can be avoided by fences. However, even if the EU were to lower the preservation status of wolves; it would not mean a green light for hunting and the problems of farmers would likely remain.

The wildlife expert said that under the reduced protection levels, one can only hunt if the populations are in a healthy situation, in a favourable conservation status. While the debate around wolves becomes heated, Belgium’s wolf population, approximately around two dozen, is mainly being decimated by road traffic.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.

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