Wolf excursion guide: ‘The wolf decides for himself whether he belongs here’

The uproar about the wolf excursion at the Natuurmonumenten on the Dwingelderveld has not led to a large crowd. There was room for twelve contestants, but on Saturday there were only eight, and they weren’t your average contestant. Three journalists, a spokesperson for the Natuurmonumenten, two friends and a young couple took part in the two-hour excursion yesterday. Three participants did not show up.

According to guide Barbara, a volunteer at the Natuurmonumenten, there was great interest in the wolf excursions when they started in Drenthe in August. She found yesterday’s group very interested, but the atmosphere is not always so good. “People sometimes ask critical questions or talk through me. Then I say I want to tell my story first and then they can give their opinion.”

Last week, there was an uproar after a tweet by LTO Noord foreman Dirk Bruins that the wolf excursion would be a revenue model. LTO Noord then launched the wolf safari, which was to visit sheep farmers who had dead sheep as a result of a wolf attack. Although serious, it was more of an attempt to push the wolf topic even higher on the agenda than it already was.

No revenue model

The Natuurmonumenten has been organizing wolf excursions in the Veluwe for four years and in Drenthe since August this year. Non-members pay 12.50 euros and members get a discount. On average, around eight participants take part, according to spokesman Fred Prak. “We have now given the excursion in Drenthe eight times, and the income from this is a total of 600 euros. The expenses must still be deducted, such as the expenses for the training of volunteers who organize the excursion. If this is the income model of the Natuurmonumenten, then we will be bankrupt in the next week.”

At the beginning of the excursion, guide Barbara calls it a compliment from nature that the wolf returned after 150 years. “Apparently we’re doing something right. He got here himself. It’s not that the wolf was put out here because we want him back. We have no control over whether the wolf belongs here, he does.”

One of the participants says that she joins because she has a broad interest in nature. She also has many conversations about nature and the wolf, and participation in the excursion helps to provide the necessary argumentation.

Myth: wolves attack humans

With a hand puppet of a wolf, the guide illustrates that there are many myths about the wolf. “One of those myths is that the wolf attacks people. Well, he’s way too shy for that. He always wants to avoid us,” says Barbara.

But what about the wolf in the Veluwe, who now has to learn by using paintball guns because he regularly stays close to people, that he really should be afraid of people? It certainly cannot be called shy. A video of a wolf chasing a cyclist in the Veluwe went viral on Thursday viral. In Drenthe, too, there are signals from wolves approaching people closely. For example, VVD MP Mark Strolenberg received a report about a wolf chasing a cyclist in Wittelte.

The draft wolf plan, which is currently being commented on by the provinces, says the following about a confrontation between the wolf and man: ‘Wolf repeatedly tolerates people approaching him less than 30 meters: problem situation.’ And if the wolf’s behavior does not change, then it is a problem wolf that must be shot. It is already possible; this does not require a new policy.

Feeding wolves creates problem wolves

“The wolf on the Veluwe is a young wolf, which people now seem to associate with food. In Germany there is an example of a wolf that was shot because it was fed by soldiers on a training ground,” says Fred Prak, spokesperson for the Natuurmonumenten . It might sound a bit crazy to pelt the wolf in the Veluwe with paintballs, but according to him it might help to change the ‘human = food’ association and ensure that the wolf regains a healthy fear of humans. .

Barbara says that a little more than half of the wolf’s menu consists of wild game. In addition, the wolf eats hares, rabbits and fallow deer. At Veluwe, that menu is supplemented with wild boar and red deer. The latter belongs to the big game category, and as far as the Drenthe province is concerned, there is no room for this.

The province of Drenthe uses a reset for wild boar. Spontaneous establishment of red deer, which are allowed to enter the province from elsewhere, can take years. The deer population is managed for road safety reasons. A motion by the Party for Animals in the provincial council calling for changes to fauna management plans due to the presence of the wolf was rejected in late September.

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