France launches Alps wolf cull

19th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 19 (AFP) - France on Monday authorised its first wolf cull since the 1930s in order to reduce a colony of some 50 animals which sheep-farmers say are wreaking havoc in the southern Alps.

PARIS, July 19 (AFP) - France on Monday authorised its first wolf cull since the 1930s in order to reduce a colony of some 50 animals which sheep-farmers say are wreaking havoc in the southern Alps.  

Ecology Minister Serge Lepeltier told a news conference in Paris that up to four wolves can be shot by the end of the year if attacks on sheep flocks continue.  

The minister was unveiling details of a wolf "action plan" which was drawn up in recent months to resolve the competing demands of the farming and environmentalist lobbies.  

Exterminated in France before World War II, the wolf was reintroduced in 1992 in the Mercantour national park on the Italian border, and its population has since increased by 20 percent a year.  

Sheep-farmers who bring their flocks to graze on the Alpine slopes during the summer months complain of the devastation caused by the predator, with more than 2,150 sheep officially killed in 2003.  

On Saturday a flock of some 140 sheep was destroyed after an animal - either a wolf or a wild dog -- drove it over a ravine near Beauvezer in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.  

The wolf is a protected species under European law and a cull can only be organised under strict conditions that do not endanger the survival of the colony.  

Lepeltier said the four authorised kills represent 10 percent of the officially established population, which is of 39 animals, rather than of the widely accepted figure of 55. He also said that if the first three animals to be shot are female, there will be no further kill.  

The government had initially planned to authorise the killing of between five and seven animals, but was forced to reduce the number under pressure from environmentalists who want to see the wolf move beyond its enclave in southeast France.  

Lepelter said that he too wanted to see the wolf spread into new habitats.  

"Given the dynamism of this population and the capacity of the species to explore and occupy new territories, it is illusory to think that the wolf will stop on the banks of the river Rhone," he said.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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