Emboldened Wolves to Be Shot at With Paintballs

Dutch officials complain wolves are becoming too tame, while activists allege a plot to kill
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2022 9:20 AM CDT
In Netherlands, Paintballs to Be Used as Wolf Deterrent
A European grey wolf is pictured Sept. 23, 2007.   (Wikimedia Commons/Mikkel Houm?ller)

A recent video showing a wolf strolling casually past a worried family of four in a national park in the Netherlands shows how some of the country's wolves have lost their fear of humans. Hoping to see that fear return, authorities are now turning to paintballs. A new decision by the Gelderland provincial government will now allow park rangers to shoot paintballs at wolves to dissuade them from coming too close to humans, per the BBC. "We're dealing with wolves that have become too tame," a spokesperson says, per the Guardian. "We have to make them frightened of people again."

The idea is to encourage wolves to stay at least 100 feet from people. Authorities say there is little chance of injuring a wolf with a paintball marker—an air gun that shoots paintballs—and the paint will indicate which wolves have had recent interactions. Wolves only recently returned to the Netherlands after an absence lasting more than a century. Roughly 20 adult wolves are thought to live there, though at least 16 pups were born this summer, including 13 in the Veluwe region, home to De Hoge Veluwe National Park, where the wolf came so close to parents and their children, per the Guardian.

Environmental protection foundation Faunabescherming has accused officials at the national park of deliberately feeding the wolves so they become tame enough to be classified as problem animals, meaning they can be culled. President Niko Koffeman says it's "suspicious" that the park's wolves are "behaving significantly differently from others in the Netherlands and in surrounding countries," per the Guardian. Park director Seger van Voorst tot Voorst denies the accusation, per the BBC, but makes no secret of his dislike for the paintball plan: "It's a fake solution so they don't have [to] say 'shoot them dead.'" (More Netherlands stories.)

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