France to Increase Its Wolf Population

Wolf Population

The French government announced that it would let its population of wolves to increase 40%, in spite of complaints from farmers in the country's mountainous regions that the animals threaten its stocks of sheep.

The government of French President Emmanuel Macron said that it will allow the grey wolf population to grow from a number that is believed to be a little more than 360 today, to 500 in 2023. The wolves were once extinct in the country, having been wiped out by hunters in the early parts of the 20th century. They only returned to the country at the end of century, when a small group of them migrated from Italy, which has a few thousand wolves. The wolves migrated not only to France, but to Germany and Switzerland as well.

The rebirth of the wolves in France has long been a source of tension between the central government and sheep farmers in the Pyrenees and Alps regions, who argue that the wolves deplete their stock and cause them serious financial hardship. As a compromise, the farmers will be allowed to kill 10% of the wolf population every year, and this number can increase to as much as 12% if wolf attacks are especially onerous.

Nicolas Hulot, who is the country's environment minister and a renown environmentalist, said that the idea of killing the wolves makes him physically sick. But, he added, the farmers have legitimate concerns, which have to be addressed.

Last fall, in protests against the wolves, farmers let many hundreds of sheep loose in the streets of Lyon, which they hoped would shed light on their plight. As part of the government's plan, farmers can apply for money to help them protect their animals, as long as they build fences and take other preventive measures.

In 2016 alone, 10,000 sheep were killed by wolves in the Alps region of France. The French government paid farmers 3.2 million euros in compensation for this, which is up 60% in comparison with 2013.

Every wolf eats 4-8 kilograms of meat every day. Though they don't just eat sheep. They also eat wild boar, deer and domestic animals.

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