BY JOSH LOWE
Angry farmers, rural politicians and about 3,000 sheep gathered in a field in the South of France Saturday to protest against a mutual enemy: the wolf.
Demonstrators gathered the sheep along with around a hundred cattle and a handful of horses in the Aveyron area to represent the number of animals they say have been slaughtered by wolves in recent months, according to Phys.org.
Wolves, once common in France, were hunted almost to extinction in the 1930s but have been staging a comeback after they crossed over from Italy in the early 1990s. Now, farmers want authorities to do more to protect their livestock from the predators.
Government statistics say that wolves have killed 4,153 animals so far this year. Throughout the whole of 2016, 10,234 animals were killed, an increase on 9,112 during 2015.
“They tell us that 80 percent of French are in favor of the wolf, but that’s because these people don’t know the reality,” said shepherd Melanie Brune.
Authorities will allow 40 wolves to be culled between July 2017 and the end of June 2018, but farmers want this to increase.
In May this year, France’s ONCFS agency, which monitors the animals, recorded 360 wolves, a jump from 292 in 2016.
Wildlife groups claimed in January that at least three wolves had even set up homes near France’s capital, Paris. One lone wolf had moved in to the Essonne area, south of the city, that officially forms part of the greater Paris area , Manoël Atman of the wolf-watching groupAlliance avec les loups told The Daily Telegraph at the time.
The European Union offers some formal protection to wolves as a species. “The wolf is designated by the European Union as a species of ‘community interest’ requiring protection and conservation,” according to the charity Wolves and Humans.