In the meadow opposite the church of the Reformed Church in Elspeet lies the eaten body of Lucky Boy, covered with a tarpaulin. The Shetland pony was found dead on Thursday morning by owner Gert Smink.
“He was 35 years old, half of my life. He was a household name in Elspeet. Every day there were children here who petted or hugged him, they rode with him or they made braids in their hair.” For Smink there is no doubt: this is the work of a wolf. “No little dog could have done this.”
There is great unrest among animal keepers in the Veluwe villages of Elspeet and Uddel. Since August 10, 41 sheep have been mauled to death and 37 have been injured in the area, according to figures from Bij12, the knowledge center for wildlife damage.
In most cases, the injured sheep were in such serious condition that veterinarians had to put them out of their misery. DNA research should clarify whether the wolf is responsible for the attacks, as the animal keepers suspect.
Two dead sheep, a stud ram and a ewe, were found this morning in Uddel. Appraiser Karel Verplak was called to check for Bij12 whether the sheep farmer is entitled to compensation. “There has been a lot of havoc. A leg has been torn off, intestines have been removed. The rib cage has been eaten. That is clearly the work of a wolf.”
Veterinarian Willem-Jan Last has to kill an injured sheep several times a week because the animals have been eaten too much. He thinks something should be done about the wolf. “This is getting out of hand. It is not sustainable to let the wolf have its way.”
Gelderland deputy Harold Zoet (BBB) thinks it is time to get to work. He notices that there is a lot of unrest in the area where the wolf “strikes almost every day”. He will go to Brussels on Thursday and argue that the protected status of the wolf should be adjusted. European Commission President Von der Leyen said this month that she is considering this.
“I hope that we can agree that we can manage wolves that cause damage,” said Deputy Zoet. “That we can shoot them, deter them or move them.”
Glenn Lelieveld of the Mammal Society is not in favor of changing the protected status. “Then you can agree that there may be a maximum of ten wolves in a certain area, and that you will then shoot the eleventh and twelfth wolf. I don’t know whether that will solve the problem, because that implies that you still have to deal with those ten wolves. living together.”
According to Lelieveld, more sheep are now dying because the young wolves are hungry. The boars and deer are a lot bigger and faster after the summer, making it difficult for the wolf parents to gather enough food for their young. A sheep in the meadow is then an easy target.
In Gelderland, information meetings for sheep farmers will be organized in the coming weeks in an attempt to dispel the unrest. Sheep owners can also borrow wolf-resistant grids from the province. But according to Smink that is not the solution. “You can fence off half of Elspeet. Then the people sit behind the fence and the wolf walks around freely.”
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