the state sees no more than the end of the gun

A wolf observed in Finistère: the first in over a century » ; the wolf is back on the Île-de-France » ; wolf attacks in Limousin ». In the local diaries, the observation is the same everywhere. The iconic king of steep forests is no longer confined to the Alps. From the Somme to the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, he wanders in search of new territories.

On Monday, June 27, the mayor of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region released his annual report on the gray wolf population in France. This is estimated at 921 individuals at the end of winter 2021-2022 by the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB), the body responsible for counting. A year earlier, on the same date, the number of wolves was estimated at 624: These elements confirm the favorable demographic dynamics of the lupine species, observed ten years ago. »writes the city hall.

A ghost with white fangs, the wolf awakens both fascination and ancestral fears. However, since his return to France in 1992, an attack on the man has never been reported. Hidden between trees and rocks, it became almost impossible to observe. Fingerprints, hair, excrement… Agents of theOFB rely on clues left in your path to establish a rough estimate. And this strongly displeases the unions of breeders, hunters and rural village mayors.

The battle of numbers

The numbers are underratedplague Claude Font, Deputy Secretary General of the National Federation of Sheep (FNO), linked to the agricultural union FNSEA. Each year, the city gives an initial estimate before revising it twelve months later. There, we’re talking about 921 wolves, but maybe it’s 1,200 or 1,300. »

If this number crystallizes so many tensions, it is because it determines the number of animals to be slaughtered. Shaped by the Ministry of Ecological Transition under Nicolas Hulot, the 2018-2023 National Action Plan on the wolf envisages a maximum of 19 % of the population are slaughtered each year. In 2022, about 174 individuals could be killed by the State’s specialized service, against 118 initially predicted. O FNSEA and the Young Farmers Union are demanding 300.

The number of wolves in France generates tensions, to the detriment of understanding the behavior of this animal. CC PERYOUR 4.0/Musicalline/Wikimedia Commons

In the eyes of Pierre Jouventin, ethologist author of The Wolf, this unloved one who looks like usthese counts artificial » it would be scientific camouflage against a backdrop of political quarrels: 624, 921, 1200… It doesn’t mean anything. Counting wolves is not as easy as counting sheep. Especially since the agents of theOFBno matter how serious they are, they are sandwiched. »

On the one hand, the National Federation of Hunters and Agricultural Unions, the FNSEA on the front lines, they want to inflate the balcony so that as many wolves are killed as possible. On the other hand, mammal advocates are trying to reduce the number to save as much as possible. Christian Hubaud, mayor of a village in the Hautes-Alpes, estimates that there are up to 60,000 wolves in France.mocks the former director of research at CNRS. That’s more than the European population. looks like a cafe ! »

Below the threshold of the wolf harvest is the issue of livestock protection. The state obliges us to respect animal welfare, which is completely normal and by which we are controlledcontinues Claude Font, breeder in Haute-Loire. But, in addition, it allows our herds to be decimated, in an atrocious way. Go talk about animal suffering with a farmer who discovers his sheep slaughtered and disemboweled. »

When we kill the dominant couple, it’s the whole pack we blast »

A study, published in Global ecology and conservationcomparing the methods of defense against the wolf, however, points to the inefficiency, even counter-productivity, of the slaughter. When we kill the dominant couple, it’s the whole pack we blast », explains Pierre Jouventin. The dominated wolves then set off in all directions, in search of new territory and a spouse to start a family. From a pack centered on a territory of 200 to 300 km² in the Alps, we obtain, therefore, wolves wandering all over France. We are doing the exact opposite of what should be done… »

Induced or not by these blind regulations, the wolf’s expansion exposes unsuspected territories to the threat of predation. In Corrèze, Seine-Maritime or Finistère, the first waves of attacks occur and the creators are not ready: Anticipation is not in place, we are completely latelaments Annabelle Wurbel, a member of the Confédération Paysanne predation commission. It takes two years for a guard dog to learn to properly protect a flock. We are neither trained nor informed. Humanly, it will be difficult to live… »

Goat farmer at Drôme, regrets that the budget of the National Action Plan is not increasing: The means are not up to the problems that are advancing in our direction. » The Confédération paysanne is campaigning in particular for Circle 3 to be deployed throughout the territory. Established in areas of possible expansion of the wolf, this system encourages the implementation of preventive actions, such as the purchase of patous, indemnified at 80 %. We must refine our means of protection and, for that, we must develop research. We need to know and understand wolves »concludes Annabelle Wurbel.

The more wolves you kill, the more attacks you suffer »

If the Peasant Confederation refuses to make the wolf a hunting board, it asks for shots to be made to respond to the damage to the herds. A testament to which Pierre Jouventin opposes: The packages are very organized. Once the experienced adults are slaughtered, the lone survivors find themselves unable to hunt wild animals. Young wolves don’t know the techniques for catching a deer or a wild boar. So what are they doing ? They are easy prey. »

The ethologist assures us: in Spain, Italy and Romania, where wolves are much more numerous than in France, the trio shepherds-patous-fences works perfectly. The more wolves you kill, the more attacks you will suffer. How is it that France is at the same time the country that spends the most to fight the canine and the one that has the least results? ? There are obvious facts there that no one raises. »

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