FOCUS- Faced with repeated attacks on the herds, a breeder asked that the wolves be slaughtered, generating controversy among conservationists.
Is the wolf there in the dark, ready to pounce? Every night, Pascal Lerousseau multiplies the rounds to watch over his 350 sheep. His two sons and his wife sometimes replace the breeder of Féniers (Creuse) with the herds. Because the wolf strikes again in the region. In late December, he attacked a neighboring farm several times. Eight sheep died, the last of which was killed on the night of January 14-15. The sore throat, the curled skin, the flanks devoured without touching the inside of the belly: the wolf, according to the farmer, left its mark. Pascal Lerousseau hopes to scare the beast and protect his animals. But like many farmers, he would like to go further, ie shoot the animal.
The controversy erupted on Sunday when the Secretary of State for Biodiversity, Bérangère Abba, announced the opening of an investigation after the farmers union Coordination Rurale called on breeders to slaughter wolves. “without saying anything”. “For us, the solution is poison and lead. Farmers are asked to take their shotgun and kill the wolf without saying a word. You have to do this discreetly so that the corpses disappear. The Rural Coordination will reimburse the lead and the bag of lime», declared the president of the union Florian Tournade to France 3. The day before, the prefecture of Creuse had published an order authorizing the frightening shots carried out by five wolf hunting lieutenants. But the farmers themselves are calling for defensive fire. However, killing a wolf, a species protected by the Berne Convention, is punishable by three years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros.
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“Scary shots are ineffective. The wolf hides, he doesn’t stand still waiting to be scared“, bothers Christian Arvis, president of Creuse’s FDSEA. The city may well subsidize the purchase of patous (sheepdogs, editor’s note) or building electrified fences, farmers remain skeptical. “We are not in a mountain context with sheep moving freely. We already have barbed wire fences“, explains Christian Arvis. “I have 270 hectares of land spread over four municipalities. How do I monitor the entire area of my farm?» In Creuse, the size of the herds also raises questions. “We have a lot of herds here. If I need one duck per herd, I must have 20 or 25 dogs to manage, feed and train. It would be very heavy financially and in terms of organization.Pascal Lerousseau objects. “The wolf has no place in the region”, he continues. Arguments that defenders of the environment do not prove. Faced with the incitement of the president of the Coordination Rurale to kill wolves, the environmental association One Voice indicated that it is filing a complaint for incitement “commits the destruction of the protected space”.
The wolf has been seen at least 5 times in Creuse since 2017, according to the French Biodiversity Office, quoted by France bleu. The last confirmed appearance dates from December 10th. The OFB concluded for the other attacks that the wolf’s responsibility was not excluded. Since returning to the Alps in the early 1990s, the wolf has been sighted in many French regions, including Île-de-France and Normandy. “Animals can appear anywhere in France. Packs are sedentary, but when the number becomes too large, young males disperse in search of new territory to settle in and can travel several hundred kilometers.», explains Farid Benhammou, professor of geography in preparatory classes and research associate at the Ruralités laboratory at the University of Poitiers. “Slaughtering wolves is a very short-term option: if there are no specimens in a territory, they will come back, continues Farid Behammou. You have to learn to live with the wolf. Protective measures don’t always work, but they do reduce damage.»
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