Jan 15, 2023 at 04:56 Update: an hour ago
The young wolf that approached people several times last autumn in the Hoge Veluwe probably did so to beg for food. The animal seems to have unlearned that behavior, because no reports have been made for several months. However, the concerns have not disappeared.
If the wolf leaves the pack and has to provide food itself, there is a chance that the animal will approach people again, experts say to NU.nl. The cubs leave the pack this year or next year.
There is no room for an extra pack at De Hoge Veluwe, so the young wolves that leave the pack have to get out of the park. The question is whether they will succeed, because De Hoge Veluwe is hermetically sealed off with high fences. The ecoducts – places where wild animals can normally cross to move to another area – have also been closed off by De Hoge Veluwe.
“I’m pretty sure that the fence of De Hoge Veluwe is less closed than the management of the park leads us to believe,” says wolf expert Leo Linnartz of ARK Nature Development.
Glenn Lelieveld of Wolven in the Netherlands agrees. “There are all kinds of standards for wolf-resistant measures and the fencing around De Hoge Veluwe does not meet them. It is possible that they can dig very quickly or that they can still climb over it. So we are not sure whether the wolves are locked up .”
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Wandering wolves are less likely to hunt game
If the young wolves fail to break through the enclosure, they must battle their parents. When there is a shortage of habitats, wolves fight each other. “The parents win that,” says Lelieveld resolutely. “They have much more experience. But I don’t know of a single documented case of young people who started fighting with their parents.”
If a young wolf starts looking for its own territory, the animal has to look for food on its own. A new situation, because before that time the parents provided food. A sheep can then be an easy snack, because where in such an unfamiliar area do deer live?
Only when a wolf has found its own habitat does the animal focus more on game. “A wolf then learns to know the area and therefore knows where the deer are. Refining the learning process how to hunt then goes quite quickly. Wolves are completely dependent on it,” explains Lelieveld.
“If this wolf (which came to people, ed.) is on a wandering and is hungry, it is not useful that the animal has learned in the past that people can feed,” says Lelieveld. He doesn’t rule out the wolf reverting to its old habit of associating people with food. Linnartz also thinks there is a chance.
According to Lelieveld, surrounding countries are watching the situation with excitement, because the wolf could also move there.
Most wolves live on the Veluwe
In the Netherlands, four wolf packs now have their own habitat. In addition, there are also several wandering wolves in our country. They are looking for their own territory. Not all of these animals settle in the Netherlands. Three packs are located in the Veluwe. One in the North Veluwe, one in the Central Veluwe and therefore one in De Hoge Veluwe park.
Hoge Veluwe did not have the wild wolf fitted with a transmitter
When the province of Gelderland wanted to chase the wolf away with a paintball gun, the Mammal Association and Natuurmonumenten called for the wolf to be fitted with a transmitter. The province then disregarded that advice, because De Hoge Veluwe did not give permission.
Linnartz, too, had thought it wise if the wolf had been given a transmitter. “How are you going to know which wolf is misbehaving? Then you first have to have DNA from the animal and that is not so easy. It would have made it much more controllable if you had put a transmitter on the animal. Then you would have exactly the to check the ins and outs.”
But De Hoge Veluwe did not give permission for this. The management of the park is fiercely opposed to the wolf and would rather lose the animals than rich. The park is afraid that the wolf will wipe out the mouflon (a type of sheep) that was once released. That has almost happened.
Lelieveld advocates trying to give the wolf a transmitter after all. “From a social perspective, I think it is desirable that this wolf can be properly tracked as soon as the animal starts to roam.”
NU.nl has asked De Hoge Veluwe for an explanation, but no one from the park was able to respond.
Beeld: Getty Images
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