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Europe’s Wolves – They’re Back

posted Sep 4, 2017, 9:33 PM by chloe owens


Europe’s Wolves – They’re Back

On the evening of June 5, 2015, Romain Ferrand, then 16, was on his family’s cattle farm in the Maritime Alps in the south of France. Sitting outside, the young man suddenly heard a commotion erupt from the ordinarily tranquil mountain darkness: Cows mooed loudly in the distance, and the dogs began to bark and growl ferociously. Romain called his brother, Benjamin, and the two set out into the night armed with flashlights and their father’s hunting knife and rifle. As soon as they arrived at the cattle pen, they saw eyes shining beyond the electric fence. They were the eyes of a predator recently returned to France — the Eurasian wolf. Benjamin went back to the farmhouse for reinforcements, leaving Romain alone with the knife and rifle. Perhaps sensing the teen’s vulnerability, nine wolves leaped from the darkness and surrounded him, snarling and snapping until the terrified young man fired a warning shot, and the pack dispersed into the night. Romain Ferrand’s ordeal is symptomatic of France’s intensifying wolf problem. The adaptable animals began drifting from Italy into France around 1992 and have been slowly increasing their numbers ever since. Though these relatively shy apex predators usually avoid humans, attacks on livestock have increased dramatically over the past decade, spelling trouble for traditional French free-range grass grazing and costing 21.4 million euros annually in public spending to compensate farmers for losses due to wolf predation and for protective measures.