Since the wolf left our country 150 years ago, four wolf packs have been seen in the Netherlands. Three of them live in the Veluwe, one lives around the border of Drenthe and Friesland. The animals are regularly the subject of discussion, because they attack sheep, for example. They also form a danger for mouflon on the Veluwe.
But that danger is not there for people, says Lelieveld. “The idea that wolves are a danger to humans stems from old folktales. Scientific studies show that the danger has actually disappeared over the past two centuries.”
It used to be different, he says. This was often due to rabies, or because the animals had to deal with food shortages and extreme weather conditions. “Both are no longer the case. Rabies almost no longer occurs in Europe. Moreover, in view of the high game stock, there is absolutely no food shortage in the Netherlands.”
There is also something else to add, says Lelieveld. “Since the Middle Ages, we have been killing wolves in Europe that show aggression towards humans.” Because we have been killing those animals for hundreds of years, the shyest wolves remain. “They have been taught from generation to generation to be shy, otherwise they would be in danger.”
‘We must learn to live with the wolf’
Wolves live in the wild, but sometimes show themselves outside. “For example, they walk over bridges and through bicycle tunnels”. In a rare case, images of wolves in residential areas have also surfaced.
Wolves don’t like to do that on their own. It’s also absolutely nothing to worry about. “Wolves sometimes come into those kinds of areas, but that is often due to the fact that they are startled by something else. They have simply taken the wrong turn. Moreover, wolves are often very stressed, and they will immediately run away if they meet people. to see.”
There is also no danger to children, says Lelieveld. “They can play outside very well.” Wolves with cubs pose no greater danger. “Of course you shouldn’t approach them, but they won’t become aggressive if you do. They usually won’t even then dare to approach humans.”
According to Lelieveld, it is certain that the wolf population in the Netherlands will increase in the coming years. Even then, he expects, there will be no danger for people. He does emphasize that we have to take the animals into account, and their presence. “We have to learn to live with the wolf. And we also have to be realistic about the chance that something will happen. More people worldwide die from a falling coconut than from a wolf attack.”