The Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus lupus), also known as the European, common or forest wolf, is a subspecies of gray wolf which has the largest range among wolf subspecies and is the most common in Europe and Asia, ranging through Mongolia, China, Russia, Scandinavia, Western Europe,Caucasus, the Himalayan Mountains and Balkans. Compared to their North American cousins, Eurasian wolves tend to have longer, more highly placed ears, narrower heads, more slender loins and coarser, tawnier coloured fur Compared to Indian wolves, Eurasian wolves are larger, and have longer, broader skulls. In Europe, wolves rarely form large packs like in North America, as their lives are more strongly influenced by human activities.Because of this, Eurasian wolves tend to be more adaptable than North American wolves in the face of human expansion.
There used to be a time when the European wolf roamed freely through my country. It was a time when we had 11 or less provinces instead of 12, when a “big city” had the size of a big town now. When manure was still hauled with horse and carriage, when wooden shoes where footwear instead of tourist traps. Internet…heck television was not yet here and radio still in it’s early stages. They used to roam throughout the country from the borders with Belgium and Germany to the shores of the North sea.
However as wolves are predators by nature, and we humans grew in population, more and more often we entered each others territory and humans being humans the wolf got driven back step by step. First losing their wolves where the western provinces of Noord and Zuid Holland (North Holland and South Holland) but unsure when exactly. anyway it has been somewhere around 1680, my province Utrecht (yes the province has the same name as it’s capital in this case) was next with the last wolf spotted around 1775. Drenthe,Gelderland and Limburg followed soon (up to 1840). The last wolf that was killed is a matter of debate but it was either in Schinveld – Limburg in1869 or Helvoirt – Noord Brabant in 1881. The last wolf seen in the Netherlands (up to recently) was in Heeze also in Noord Brabant in 1897, this sighting however is subject of debate as well. Around the same time the wolf disappeared in Belgium as well and it got eventually driven back as far as Spain, Italy and the Eastern European countries.
And so the wolf disappeared from my country not to be seen back for more then a century.
The Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, also known as the Bern Convention (or Berne Convention), is a binding international legal instrument in the field of Nature Conservation, it covers the natural heritage in Europe, as well as in some African countries. The Convention was open for signature on 19 September 1979 and came into force on 1 June 1982. It is particularly concerned about protecting natural habitats and endangered species, including migratory species. Among these species was the European wolf. Due to this agreement the wolf was able to recover greatly over the last decades slowly making it’s way back over European soil towards the Netherlands. Since 1998 packs are known to roam through the German region of Lausitz and in the bordering part of western Poland the population is growing. Packs now roam at less than 200 km/124 miles and lone wolves are spotted in the border areas as well and then came July the fourth 2013.
This day marked the moment that the fist wolf after almost 150 years was found dead in the Netherlands near the town of Luttelgeest. Luttelgeest is situated in the province of Flevoland. It is the province that didn’t even existed when we still had wolves, in fact by then it was called Zuiderzee (southern sea) and it was a big body of water
Initially everybody thought the animal had died due to an accident however autopsy proved that it was a case of humans being humans and of course some *^&%$bleeping&*^^%*& bleep bleep had shot the poor animal. It was a She wolf and in her stomach where the remains of a beaver found proving that the animal had not escaped from captivity but was a free roamer.
The 1.5 to 2 years old she-wolf is almost certainly came from Eastern Czech Republic, through Southern Poland and Slovakia into the Netherlands and has roamed some 900 kilometers (560 miles). This distance is not uncommon for young wolves that leave their pack to find a new territory
Now this She-Wolf has been found, it is likely there are more loners roaming through the country according to researchers from the Wageningen University. And that brings us to the future of the wolf in the Netherlands.
I am having mixed feelings about this. On one hand I am thrilled to know that we have this beautiful creature back in our woods, it shows nature around here can’t be all that fekked up as we feared and it might help us to control the deer population during harsh winters. On the other hand do I fear. I fear not for myself or my friends and neighbors, no I fear for the wolf.
As you might know our country is small and within that small area we have a crapload of people living and working. in fact we rank 30 in the world when it comes to population density while we come in at 127 if ranked by size. This means hunting grounds for lone wolves are present and for those game is in abundance. However if packs will be formed (and we all know that nature MUST have it’s course so they WILL be formed) the amount of game suddenly is a lot less available. Wolves being wolves this might lead to attacks on livestock and pets which of course will lead to a witch wolf hunt complete with pitchforks, torches and stakes led by the “hunting elite” (I have nothing against hunting for food or when a population obviously grows to big for it’s own good but I am against the ‘party hunts” that serve no other purpose then the enjoyment of the participants.
Besides the hunters you also have the fools, the ignorant and the plain stupid that look at NatGeo or Animal planet, see documentaries about people that “walk with wolves” and assume that “anything they can do I can do it better too” the dumbfounded fathers that go and take their kids to “go see some real dogs” and the photo enthusiasts that will stalk (well TRY to stalk) the animals for some “cool shots”
In the end I am afraid that I can’t do anything about it and have nature run it’s course. I hope that wildlife organizations will at least make sure to educate the public before more wolves are spotted and that my fellow Dutchmen will be able to show some restraint. Only then will this magnificent animal have a chance to live and breed and prosper
Sources used for this article are http://www.wolveninnederland.nl/wolven/wolf/historie , several news outlets and an old copy of an article from a magazine that no longer is there.
You can find some related articles on the pages of petrel41 by going to http://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/wolf-in-the-netherlands-after-150-years/ where you will find some more background articles about the Luttelgeest Wolf (and loads more interesting stuff 😉 )