New wolf attack on Lévézou: “We must remain very careful”

New wolf attack on Lévézou: “We must remain very careful”

Un cliché du loup capturé par les pièges photographiques installés par les services de l’Office français de la biodiversité. OFB

Le troupeau d’un éleveur ovin de Saint-Beauzély, cible d’une nouvelle attaque attribuée au loup.

LNE. "Wolf not discarded". Spared in 23 years of activity, Etienne Bastide, a sheep-meat breeder in Saint-Beauzély, suffered two herd attacks in less than three weeks. The results: two dead sheep, a goat and a lamb euthanized and several other injured sheep "which we will try to keep alive", deplores the operator.

The last breeder in the area, the farmer is worried. How can you continue your activity knowing that the wolf is prowling in the area? A wolf also photographed by the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) shortly after the first attack, on the 23rd ;nbsp;last May.

Size, gait, general color of coat, tail, ears, labial mask, black lines on the forelimbs… The clues noted allowed the OFB to confirm the presence of canis lupus. A priori alone, camera traps are not sufficiently effective to assess the presence or size of potential packs.

Derogatory destruction shots

"I repeat, I have absolutely nothing against the wolf but if it attacks the herds, we should be able to take the charge from the person responsible, pleads the breeder who is today asking the prefecture to authorize him to defend his livelihood.

In its latest "wolf plan", the legislator effectively authorizes samples. Under certain conditions. "In l’ lack of alternative solution to protect herds against predation, shootings to destroy wolves are, in fact, possible as an exception.

Simple or reinforced defense shots are therefore authorized by prefectural decree – when the herd, despite resorting to simple defensive fire, has suffered at least three successive attacks in the last twelve months.

Protection dogs

"I think I'm on track but I'm still waiting for the prefecture's decision",recalls the breeder, worried for the sustainability of his farm if such events were to recur. The use of protection dogs of the Patou, or Pyrenees Mountain type, being unthinkable for him: his operation located near tourist sites of interest and interest ;a long-distance hiking trail.

According to the latest figures from the OFB, 1,104 wolves live in France, four times more than ten years ago. They are now present in fifty-five departments. Between 11,000 and 12,500 domestic animals, spread across 3,354 farms, were killed by the predator in 2023, giving rise to the distribution from 4 to 5 million euros in compensation.

What about more specifically in Aveyron where attacks are increasing, as claimed by the Cercle 12 breeders' association, which is campaigning for regulation of the wolf population? nbsp;? "We are over two years with a number of important findings, confirms the French Biodiversity Office. In sectors like Lévezou, where we were not used to intervening until then."

"You have to be very careful"

If genetic analyzes have so far made it possible to identify two individuals, "l’one on Larzac, l&rsquo ;other on the Aubrac" difficult to determine precisely the number of these predators in the department. "We must remain very cautious, very humble with regard to the movement capabilities of the animal, puts the OFB into perspective. L’last year we had successive observations on the Causse Comtal for several weeks, then nothing more."

Very approximate in Aveyron, the evolution of the number of canis lupus “today seems to be stagnating on the scale national", continues the OFB which, like the Departmental Directorate of Territories (DDT) calls for nuance.

"We cannot be satisfied with the slightest attack, but we remain a small department in terms of predations with certainly regular samples but without common measure with those observed in the Alpine arc for example. Where several hundred cases are recorded each year", temper state services. Since the beginning of the year  , 21 attacks were noted in Aveyron.

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