French authorities might soon be looking to hire experienced wolf hunters from North America to help cull the country’s troublesome native wolf population.
As in the United States, wolves are a protected species in France. According to RFI, experts believe 250 wolves exist in the European nation’s forests, but the animals are causing serious problems for farmers. In 2012 alone, rural residents recorded 6,000 attacks on cattle and other domestic animals. To combat this, French wildlife authorities have authorized a small hunt with a quota of 22 animals.
So far, French hunters have had no luck against the cunning canines.
“In Canjuers, we organized a hunt with 150 hunters in February, and we didn’t find a single wolf,” said government official Laurent Cayrel. “…in France, nobody knows how to hunt wolves.”
The current situation is a far cry from the wolf hunters of France’s past. Wolf hunting has a prestigious history in France and wolf hunters, or louvetiers, once served in an administrative position known as the Wolfcatcher Royal. The position still exists today, but now focuses mainly on wildlife population control. Cayrel tells RFI that France’s lack of experienced hunters could be helped by bringing in specialists from America and Canada.
American hunters and conservationists are hopeful that wolf hunting will expand beyond the few states that currently hold seasons. Many state wildlife agencies are also in support of establishing management hunts, which could be possible if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delists the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list. However, the proposal is receiving strong opposition from animal rights organizations. Read more about the issue here.
France’s wolves live mostly in the French Alps or along Pyrenees on the Spanish border.