Farmers afraid of the big bad wolf

Recent sightings of wolves in Jutland have Danish farmers worried about the safety of their livestock and now an attack has confirmed growing concern

On Monday, Sven Joensen, a farmer from Harrild Held in mid-Jutland awoke to find that eight of his 330 sheep were missing. He immediately suspected a wolf, as just days earlier, a wolf was photographed three kilometres away.

"I was outside with the flock in the middle of the day on Sunday, and there were no problems," Joensen told Berlingske newspaper. "But when I returned on Monday at 10am to feed them, it was a different story. The sheep always used to run down to my feed wagon, but this time, they stood still. I saw the dead sheep in front of me and then looked around to find that in total, two of my sheep were killed. Several others were lying injured while the rest of the flock just stood still." 

Six out of 14 injured animals had to be killed. The sheep had bite marks all over their bodies, and a farmer from Holstebro confirmed Joensen's suspicion that it was a wolf.

"My colleague is of Swedish origin, and he knows what a wolf attack looks like. He says it is typical for many sheep in the flock to be attacked," Joensen said. 

The case has been reported to the police, and Joensen has contacted state game rangers to clarify the cause of death. Although farmers have to pay a deductible for insurance for animal attacks, Joensen stresses that he is not opposed to wolves returning to the Danish countryside. But he hopes that there will be greater awareness about the effects of their return.

"If it turns out to be a wolf, I would like it if we discussed the consequences of their return," he said. "There are, of course, consequences."

Wolves were eradicated from Denmark at the beginning of the 1800s. Prior to recent sightings, the last recorded wolf was shot just south of Skive in 1813. Now, some 200 years later, they are returning. Experts believe that the wolves are coming to Denmark from Germany, where the wolf population has been increasing over the past ten years. Mogens Trolle, a zoologist at the Natural History Museum, told Ekstra Bladet that while single wolves may be returning, it will be a long time before Denmark will have its first wolf pack.