We cannot let wolves run free, say Jan Hartog and Bert-Jan Ruissen. As far as they are concerned, we must not sacrifice our livestock on the altar of wolf worship. ‘Man can control nature.’
In ‘Hysterical ballad about the wolf does not help’ ( DvhN , 31-12) the author puts her finger on what she sees as enemy thinking and manipulation in the discussion about the wolf in the Netherlands. According to her, stories and bloody images are evil and suggestive because she believes that humans and wolves can get along well with a little good will.
At SGP Groningen, we see it differently. The cited article is an example of a way of thinking about nature that is not realistic in practice. Therefore, we would like to draw a different picture of how we as people in our densely populated country should interact with nature, with creation. This goes beyond a vision of the wolf.
It is our belief that man, as the ‘viceroy’ of creation, has the task of managing this creation correctly. This means that people and animals (or plants) are not equal, but that people have a responsibility towards flora and fauna. On the one hand, people may keep animals as pets, as a hobby or for financial reasons. Caring for these animals also means providing food, shelter and protection.
Man has a task
Humans have a job with animals in nature. Think of Oostvaardersplassen, where intervention was necessary due to extreme hunger. Or the overpopulation of carnivores in dune areas causing the natural vegetation to disappear. Rats, wasps, hornets or stone martens can cause enormous damage.
Practice shows that ‘letting nature take its course’ does not work. The wolf is a hunter that eats an average of 3 to 4 kilos of meat per day. It doesn’t care if its prey has a yellow ear tag or not. And he kills more than he can handle. Like other predators, the wolf will not stop when a prey’s position has become critical.
The wolf causes enormous damage to sheep, calves and ponies. In Drenthe alone, 93 attacks were proven in the first 9 months of last year, according to an overview from the organization BIJ12. Including massacres like 12 dead sheep in Anloo.
Looking for new territory
In autumn, DNA from one pack from the region of Southwest Drenthe and Southeast Fryslân (wolves GW2397m and GW2090f) was found in 30 cases of injuries. Their young are now looking for a new territory to reproduce.
Letting this run wild is too damaging. Intervention is necessary, possible and permissible. The European Habitats Directive (Article 16) allows provinces to capture, relocate or kill problem wolves. Subsequent notification within two years is sufficient for the European Commission.
Many other EU countries already do this, including Germany and Sweden. Furthermore, in large parts of Europe, such as various Eastern European countries, the wolf already has a lower protection status. Partly on the initiative of the SGP, the European Parliament asked the European Commission to also lower the wolf’s protection status in the rest of the EU: after all, with more than 20,000 of these animals, the species is no longer threatened and easier management is needed.
Alternative not to do and far too expensive
The alternative to intervention is to protect all sheep, calves and ponies. Think of fences with electric wire around meadows. Or electric collars for sheep. With thousands of meadows and 850,000 sheep in the Netherlands, this is impossible and far too expensive. The northern Netherlands would then be literally shielded.
In short, we are dealing with a predator that cannot live peacefully with us and our pets. If we even have room for the wolf in our small country, then certainly not in as yet unlimited numbers and certainly not everywhere. And then management – as with other animals – is something humans can and should do.
Jan Hartog is party leader for the SGP province Groningen, Bert-Jan Ruissen is a member of the European Parliament for the SGP