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Dutch court OKs pelting 'deviant' wolves with paintballs

By AFP

January 24, 2024 06:26 PM


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Dutch authorities can shoot "deviant" wolves that could pose a danger to the public with paintballs, a court ruled on Wednesday, as debate rages in Europe over protecting the animals.

After a lengthy legal battle, the court in Utrecht, central Netherlands, judged that the behaviour of some of the wolves in a national park was "a serious threat to public safety."

One female not only does not take fright when photographers move close to her but also approaches cyclists and walkers herself, the court said.

"The fact that the wolf seems to be less and less afraid of people does not mean that the animal can no longer become aggressive and bite," according to the ruling.

Other methods of scaring off the wolves, such as shouting, are ineffective, and pepper spray was deemed dangerous for the animals.

"There is no other satisfactory solution than shooting the wolf with a paintball gun and... it is necessary in the interest of public safety," said the court.

The decision came as Europe grapples with its wolf population, which has bounced back from near extinction.

The European Commission said in December it wants to change their protected status -- allowing them to be hunted -- after data showed they pose a rising threat to livestock.

Brussels is asking EU member countries to revise the protection status for wolves, taking it from "strictly protected" to just "protected", which would authorise them to be hunted under strict regulation.

The commission estimates there are around 20,300 wolves across the EU, and "damage to livestock has increased as the wolf population has grown".

A commission study said wolves killed at least 65,000 heads of livestock in the EU each year: sheep and goats in 73 percent of cases, cattle in 19 percent, and horses and donkeys in six percent of cases.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen lost her beloved elderly pony Dolly in September to a wolf who crept into its enclosure on her family's rural property in northern Germany.


AFP


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