Dogs threaten Brussels wild deer with extinction
14 April 2004
BRUSSELS – Wild deer in forest land around Brussels are in danger of exitinction because of regular and savage attacks by pet dogs, according to the Brussels Institute of Environmental Management (IBGE).
Deer and bucks are increasingly found with horrifying wounds to their groins, head and legs, the IBGE revealed.
With an estimated number of just 110 deer remaining in the 1,600-hectare forest of Soignes, close to the capital, the IBGE has warned of a critical situation caused by owners walking their dogs and allowing them to run free off their leashes.
“When a dog smells a wild animal its hunting intstincts take over,” said IBGE forest manager Stephane Vanwijnzenberghe.
“A dog knows where to attack its prey and we are finding bucks with their testicles ripped off and deer with wounds to the throat and hind quarters,” Vanwijnzenberghe told Belgian daily Le Soir.
The worst-known incident was in 1997 when two Alsatian dogs running stray in the Soignes forest killed some 30 deer over a period of several weeks.
Dog owners face fines of up to EUR 620 for causing the death of a deer and are also liable to refund the costs of replacing the animal.
Vanwijnzenberghe said dogs also caused the deer to bolt in panic across nearby roads where they are regularly killed in collisions with vehicles. Ten animals were involved in road accidents last year and the IBGE has also launched an appeal to drivers to reduce speeds on routes close to the forest.
“It is in their interest to do so because any damage caused to vehicles is entirely the driver’s responsibility,” Vanwijnzenberghe said.
The popularity of the woods for leisure activities, inotably cycling, jogging and horse-riding, is an additional hostility for many deer now about to give birth, and the IBGE has appealed for people to stay away from new-born deer.
“If a new-born deer is handled by man its mother will disown it and it will have no chance of surviving,” Vanwijnzenberghe warned. He called on anybody coming across a fawn to immediately turn away and leave the immediate area.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news