Measures Being Taken to Revive French Wolf Population
A plan to protect French wolves could lead to a growth in population to 500 by 2024. The proposal, intended to bolster France's wolf population by 40 percent, is intended to allow wolves to continue living within the country. The most likely opposition to such legislation, farmers within the countryside, have already cited multiple instances of impaired income as a direct result of wolves going after livestock.
The proposal is being spearheaded by Nicholas Hulot, an environmentalist, and intends to offer financial assistance to farmers so they can afford electrified fences to deter predators and herding dogs to keep livestock in line. Said plan would also cede to farmers' interests by allowing an annual culling of 10 percent of all wolves. Culling would serve as a way to lessen the frequency of sheep attacks by wolves. France first institutionalized wolf hunting with the "louveterie" in the early 800s.
While wolves were once prolific throughout the European continent, they came very close to extinction by the 19th century. This sharp decline in wolf populations can mostly be attributed to overeager hunting policies. Recently, wolves have been able to make a slow return to countries like Denmark, France, Italy and Slovenia; just last month a lone wild wolf was spotted in Belgium, signifying the first confirmed sighting of a Belgian wolf in over a century.
The United Kingdom's Wildwood Trust is among several groups throughout Europe whom are calling for active reintroduction of the wolf into Europe. The Trust remarked that large predators, like wolves, serve a vital position within ecosystems by controlling the population and spread of various prey species and thus equalizing said ecosystems. Despite their desire to bring the wolf off the list of endangered species, the Wildwood Trust acknowledges the issues involved in bringing wolves back, citing the likely issue of prejudice and issues with acquiring support for reinstatement.
According to the most current data by the United States-based International Wolf Center, roughly 13,000 wild and domestic wolves reside within Europe. While some countries are actively looking to bring the species back, others are looking to thin its numbers out. Finland culled 55 of its 290 grey wolves between the years 2015 and 2016 as a countermeasure to illegal poaching seeking to safeguard livestock. The culling incited environmentalists who were more concerned with long-term damage to the country's wolf population and diversity among the genes of those wolves.
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