Do wolves live in the Netherlands?
We all know him: the wolf. They once lived here, in our country. You probably know them from the zoo, fairy tales or from a scary movie. You think they are fine there. Fortunately they no longer live in the Netherlands. Or is it?
First, let’s get to know the wolf. In every part of the world, there is a predator at the top of the food chain. Consider, for example, the lion in Africa and the tiger in Asia. In this part (Europe) this place is reserved for wolves, among others. Bears are also at the top of the food chain in Europe. The bears have been forced back to the mountains over time. The wolf has survived well: despite the takeover of humans in nature, the wolf managed to survive in nature. Over time, the population has declined because of this, but in recent years these canids have been on the rise again.
The wolf is a fairly large predator. They can grow up to 2 meters long (from head to tail) and weigh from 20 kilos to 80 kilos. They have an excellent smell and even against the wind they can smell other animals from about 300 meters away. They can also see well in the dark. They have 42 teeth:
- 12 incisors,
- 4 canines,
- 16 presets,
- 10 tear dials
The wolf has a light coat, has white around the beak and they have a pointed nose. The tail is also recognizable: this thick tail hangs down between the high legs. It is a muscular and powerful animal. The ‘howling’ of the wolf is also very recognizable and can be heard up to 8 kilometers away. You can see that a wolf lives in nature, for example from the excrement or the paw prints. The paw print resembles that of a dog, but is larger. About 8 to 10 cm long, oval (round in dog) and with more space between the toes. The droppings of wolves contain a lot of lime, bone debris and hair from their prey. Wolves are the ancestors of the dog. Together they can also provide offspring.
Seen the wolf in the Netherlands
In 1800, dozens of wolves were still hunting in our forests. They were the terror of everyone. Not only were your livestock not safe, neither were your children. You had great fear if you walked alone through the forest. They were therefore hunted down, driven out and shot at. In 1869 one of the last wolves was seen near Schinveld and in 1897 there was only one (in the Brabant Heeze), and it disappeared. ‘Fortunately’, I now hear you think. But nothing could be further from the truth, because they still live here. Just look at your best friend who is now comfortably in his basket. The wolves are the ancestors of our dogs!
They are still alive in Europe. In Poland and Italy, for example, they never left. The first wolves came to Germany in 1996. In 2005 they were even seen west of Berlin and in early 2009 hunters in Lower Saxony (200 kilometers from the Dutch border) shot one. You may think that this is a ‘far from your bed show’, but when you consider that wolves can travel about 50 to 100 kilometers per night, it is suddenly very close. So there is a good chance that they will just appear in the Netherlands.
The latter has already happened a number of times. In August 2011 a wolf is said to have been spotted in Duiven in Gelderland and in September that year in the Veluwe. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of this. On July 4, 2013, a wolf was found dead in Luttelgeest (Flevoland). At first it was doubted whether it was a real wolf, but after DNA research this was determined: it is a real wolf. Is it back after all? After 150 years? It was first thought that this animal had been run over, but additional research by the Dutch Wildlife Health Center (DWHC) of Utrecht University and Naturalis shows that this wolf was shot in Poland and then deposited here.
In March and April 2014, wolves were photographed in the west of Lower Saxony at Meppen and Nordhorn, 15 kilometers from the Dutch border. In March, a photo trap at Meppen photographed a wolf. Two weeks later, another wolf was captured with a camera trap on the military training area ‘Nordhorn Range’ (less than 10 kilometers from the border at Denekamp, Twente). At the beginning of June 2014, the wolf was seen three times within 24 hours in Ootmarsum in Twente. This is the first wolf in 150 years that has returned to the Netherlands itself. On Sunday, June 15, 2014, it was announced that cameras will be installed in areas between North Groningen and Nijmegen. It cannot be proven that it really was a wolf. Only with DNA evidence and camera images can it be established with certainty that the wolf has returned to our country. If this is the case, the wolf will become a protected species in the Netherlands.
In short, there is a very good chance that the wolf will return to the Netherlands (if it is not already walking around unnoticed somewhere) and that you will encounter one. Opinions are divided on this. Nature lovers would love to see the wolf return, but others will fear for public health. But just think, how many people annually go on vacation to areas where the wolf lives? And take nature walks there without realizing that they are walking around in the habitat of the wolf?
What do you do when you meet a wolf?
- Respect the wolf
- Take your distance slowly and slowly
- Keep dogs on a leash
- When the wolf comes close: talk loudly and make gestures.
- Don’t chase or feed the wolf!
- Bring in the dogs in the evening (especially during mating season: January-March)
You cannot ignore it, the wolf belongs in our nature. And he is back in the Netherlands. There is therefore a good chance that the wolf will be seen more often in (or near) the Netherlands.
One thing is certain: there is still a tail to this!