After more than a century, the wolves have come back as permanent residents in the Netherlands. Researchers have confirmed that they aren’t just passing by through months of tracking and collecting DNA samples. While it is a win for conservationists, there are those who believe that wolves should not be welcomed back.
140 years ago, wolves were hunted out of many European countries. This was either for sport or to protect their farm animals from being eaten by the packs. Since then, there have only been occasional sightings in the Netherlands, most recent ones were in 2015. However, these wolves were believed to only be crossing over temporarily from Germany, and they would eventually return there.
Ecologists and researchers from FreeNature and Wolven in Nederland hoped that the two females they have been tracking in the Veluwe area were not just passing through the country. After months of collecting wolf prints and scat, they have determined that the wolves have stayed continuously for six months, so they can now be deemed as “established” in the area. They have also been tracking a male in the same region, so researchers are hopeful that there will be a pack forming soon.
Conservationists are happy with the return of the wolves, but farmers are worried about their comeback. In France, for example, killing wolves is only allowed under certain circumstances, so some farmers have had to watch their sheep or goats get taken away instead of defending them. If the wolves get through a security system (electric fence, trained dogs, etc.), then the government can compensate for their loss. They recognize the importance of bringing back the wolf population, but they must also learn to cohabit with everyone else.
The government of the Netherlands must also figure out how to maintain the wolf population while protecting their citizens’ farms. Eliminating all the wolves once again is certainly not the solution and giving farmers some leeway when it comes to protecting their animals should be done. We must learn to coexist with the other living beings around us if we want a sustainable planet, and this includes the predators of our livestock.