Belgium soon to be the wolf crossroads of Europe?
Exactly 150 years after the disappearance of the last wolf in Flanders, a new specimen appeared in North Limburg on 3 January 2018: Naya. The wolf is back – and, most likely, here to stay.
In earlier centuries, most people lived in and from the countryside. Farmers were constantly targeting wolves, who were killing their cattle and sheep. In our largest land predator, the nobility saw a formidable competitor for game hunting. In 1779, the last known wolf's nest was spotted in Lommel and in 1868, the last Flemish wolf was hunted down in Merksplas. The few remnants retreated to the mountains of Europe, and the peasants and noblemen could breathe again ...
Until the arrival of Naya. She was born in the north of Germany in 2016. In barely two months, she headed down from Hamburg via the Netherlands to Limburg. This is what her collar shows us, which contains a transmitter and a GPS function. The DNA traces on two dead sheep also betrayed the German ancestry of Naya, of the ten other wolves observed in Flanders since January 2018 and of most of the wolves turning up in Wallonia.
There is a realistic chance that the northern (German-Polish) and southern (French-Italian) populations will soon join us. However, their numbers in Belgium will remain limited. Packs claim an extensive territory for themselves and defend it tooth and nail. We humans have no need to fear the wolf ... except perhaps for Little Red Riding Hood.