Wolves are Back in the Netherlands After Over a Century

The Netherlands has a resident wolf population after 140 years without wolves making their home in the Dutch country, but not everyone is happy.

Ecologists report that two female wolves have settled in the Hoge Veluwe nature reserve, with a male also roaming in that same region. Experts from groups such as FreeNature and Wolven in Nederland, as well as scientists from Wageningen University, have been tracking paw prints and scat (wolf droppings) since wolves were first sighted back in the Netherlands in 2015. At the time of their sightings, it seemed likely the wolves were passing over the border from Germany and would return there in short order.

However, Ecologist Hugh Jansman and team released information in March concluding that two vixens have indeed settled in Gelderland province. Various sightings led researchers to suspect there may be several more wolves in the area—which is not uncommon—but that they may be joining the established population, something that would be a major milestone.

Wolves were hunted to virtual extinction across many places in Europe. In places where they did survive they have shown a remarkable resilience and, slowly, have made their way across their former European territories and started to reclaim land that was lost to them.

Some are celebrating the news of the wolves’ return to the Netherlands, but not everyone is happy.

Farmers say they need more power to prevent wolf attacks on their livestock. Wolves are an endangered species in Europe, so people can shoot them under specific circumstances, such as them being a present threat to human health. Dutch farmers say they lost over 130 sheep in 2018 to roaming wolves, and they fear that an established population will only increase that number.

It is worth noting, however, that while there are stories of farmers observing wolf attacks with their own eyes, the majority of incidents are not confirmed as wolf attacks.

Under recent plans, farmers can apply for compensation to recoup the earnings they might lose as a result of wolf attacks, a scheme that has worked with some success since it was put in place in France.

Beyond the farming sector, there have been other critics. Hoge Veluwe National Park’s director has reportedly come out against the wolves reintroduction. ”We are working hard on a daily basis to maintain the unique ecological balance of the park,” Seger Emmanuel baron van Voorst tot Voorst told DutchNews. “There will be big consequences if we let the wolves in.”

Not everyone shares this negative opinion. Others have cited on-the ground-research which has demonstrated that, with a bit of work, wolves can be taught that going after domestic sheep simply isn’t worth the hassle when there is plenty of other prey around. Wolves actually tend to favor deer and other similarly-sized animals. Working with farmers to install things like electric fences around their sheep farms could help keep the wolves away from domestic livestock in favor of going after the abundant wild prey animals in the area.

For conservationists, that is one of the major selling points of the wolves. Due to hunting and other factors, the Netherlands lacks large land predators to keep herbivore populations in check. Wolves could provide a significant balancing to the equilibrium in the area.

“We shoot 50% of deer and 80% of boar to maintain a socially acceptable level,” Ecologist Hugh Jansman said. “I think the wolves could do a lot of good.”

Conservationists believe that the region could house around 20 small wolf packs of up to eight animals. This will certainly be a challenge for local farmers and the wider ecology, but as other nations have shown, it is possible to achieve a balance with the wolves that can be beneficial for them and for us.

Related at Care2

Photo credit: Getty Images.

67 comments

Nicky H
Nicky H17 hours ago

I am certainly very happy the wolves came back. The Netherlands is a neighbour country of Belgium, and apparently, a couple of years ago farmers also sent photos around showing wolves roaming over the fields. This was reported for a couple of years in a row, and then nothing more. Maybe a farmer killed it, or it just left, it is not known. Wolves would have been seen in the South part of Belgium, where there is less population, industry or big cities. They live in the woods and feed on deer, boar, etc.. So they do not cause any problems to the farmers there. If the wolves would come back to the Northern region, I welcome them. Farmers must take necessary measures to protect their animals with electric fencing, alarm systems etc. If wolves should manage to come into the protected areas and kill some of their animals, the Government will investigate and reimburse. So there is NO reason to complain. On the contrary, be happy they are restoring...
When they can manage the wolves to stay in Germany, in France, in Belgium and other countries, why should the Dutch people not be able to do so? LEARN TO SHARE THE PLANET !!!

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Leo C
Leo Custeryesterday

Thank you for sharing!

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Martha P
Martha Pyesterday

Thanks

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 days ago

Fantastic Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 days ago

Awesome Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 days ago

Great news Thank you for caring and sharing

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Lesa D
Lesa D3 days ago

thank you Steve...

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salah z
salah zoubiri3 days ago

Awesome

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salah z
salah zoubiri3 days ago

Great

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