By Reuters Staff
PARIS (Reuters) – French authorities have caught a black Canadian wolf that escaped from a wildlife park during heavy flooding in southern France more than a week ago but six others remain on the run.
The seven black Canadian wolves escaped from the Alpha animal park in the Mercantour national reserve, 80 km (50 miles) north of the city of Nice, during massive river flooding which destroyed their enclosure.
The captured wolf was tranquilised with a dart gun in a large operation on Monday involving a helicopter, a spokeswoman for the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) said.
“Chances are that the (other) black wolves are still in the zone, they are used to being fed,” she told Reuters on Wednesday.
The search for the other six wolves is continuing in mountainous terrain that is hard to access as many roads remain blocked because of flood damage.
The OFB has said the wolves are not dangerous to humans as they were born in captivity and do not know how to hunt, but it has warned against approaching them.
The spokeswoman said 13 wolves of three different subspecies had been in the park before the floods; the seven black Canadian wolves, three grey European wolves, and three white Arctic wolves, each in a separate enclosure.
Two Arctic wolves, whose enclosure was the closest to the river, have been found dead and one is missing but presumed to be dead.
The spokeswoman said the three European grey wolves had stayed in their enclosure after the floods but were tranquilised by police and moved to a different facility.
At least six people died and more than a dozen are believed still missing after the worst flooding to hit southeastern France for more than a century, when swollen rivers washed away houses, bridges and parts of roads.
Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Gareth Jones