Big Bad Wolf

wolf Nothing, it seems, creates hysteria amongst country folk (and journalists) than tales of a large beast roaming the countryside and killing at will. Talk down at “l’Agneau égorgé” in Saint-Geoire-en-Valdaine has been of nothing else. You can almost picture wide eyed locals imploring you not to leave the road. On Saturday night the torches were lit, children and womenfolk locked up safe and sound, pitchforks sharpened and muskets loaded. The prefet of the Isère Michel Bart signed the order giving the go-ahead for the hunt. A large grey, dog like animal, with big ears, a big nose and big teeth, has been spotted but hunters failed to get a clear shot.

Gérard Seigle-Vatte, President of the local chamber of agriculture said the wolf hunt was necessary to calm the local farmers. Mr Seigle-Vatte had earlier warned that it was only a matter of time before the wolf killed a person, an opinion shared by André Bel, brother of one farmer who has lost animals to the alleged wolf. Mr Bel says he has found an entry in the local community register dating from the 12th Century talking of a young girl that was killed by a wolf. He says that wolves don’t change and they will kill again. Despite claims from experts that wolves do not attack humans local mothers were taking no chances today, daughters were forbidden from taking cakes to their grandmother’s house in the woods.

Wolves reappeared in France in the early 1990s having crossed over from Italy. They are protected by Berne convention on species and under European Law. Jacques Chirac, the French President recently lectured African countries on the need for greater biodiversity. It is estimated that there are currently 60 wolves living in France (farmers claim the figure is more like 100), 2000 in Spain and 500 in Italy. Environmentalists say that the majority of attacks on livestock are by stray dogs and the wolf is a scapegoat for farmers suffering severe economic problems.

Wolf photo from the Reuters story - just to illustrate journalists attitudes

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 22 May, 2005 at 12:29 PM

The wolf hunt has so far proved unsuccessful with no trace of the animal since its last kill. 18 officers of the French Government Body for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) have been tracking the wolf for the last week. The hunt was disrupted by saboteurs armed with bells and torches early this morning.

Mayors of the ten communities concerned by the wolf have warned locals not to venture into the woods at night – presumably to stop them being shot by one of the hunters. The hunt will continue until Sunday night, suspiciously the same time as polls in the French referendum close. One has to speculate at how much the hunt has cost to date.

There are no recent records of wolf attacks on humans in France. The main risks to walkers are being run over by a 4x4, insect stings and… being shot by hunters.

Posted by davidof on  Saturday, 28 May, 2005  at 02:04 PM

Yes I have to say I find the hysteria around wolves in France is ridiculous. Coming from North America where wolves, cougars and bears still exist this type of behavior seems very middle ages to me. And as a conservationist I can’t stand the idea of these ‘witch hunts’ around wolves. In Chamonix they allowed live traps to be placed between Argentiere and Chamonix this Spring (currently the permit is no longer posted so hopefully that is the end of it) but I think the danger with these traps being set is more to dogs/domestic animals, mushroom pickers and hikers in the woods (not to mention the fact that there are so few farmers in this valley it is ridiculous to continue to allow the extermination of predatory animals here!). More farmers in Europe need to go back to the days of training herding dogs to protect their flocks and learn to live with the other creatures on this earth. 

Posted by  on  Thursday, 09 June, 2005  at 01:10 AM

An update on the Wolf. It appears that a new wolf is at large in the Bornes/Aravis following DNA evidence taken after recent attacks on sheep (the majority of sheep are killed by stray dogs in France). The Chartreuse wolf is no longer being hunted after a decision by the French high court decided that the prefet’s authorization was illegal. The government plans to issue a new authorization shortly.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 17 June, 2005  at 08:24 PM

The new decree has been issued by Nelly Olin, the French environment minister. This authorizes the killing of six wolves in the 9 departments that constitute the French Alps and gives farmers the right to shoot at wolves in self defense.

Denis Grosjean who represents the European Association Against Predators called the measures “derisory”, he has demanded eradication of wolves from France.

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 19 June, 2005  at 12:46 AM

Maybe we should eradicate the EAAP instead from France.

Posted by  on  Friday, 24 June, 2005  at 03:56 PM
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