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Extinct Wolves Return to Denmark After 200 Years

May 08, 2017 10:07 AM EDT

It's been a long time since wolves roamed Denmark, but it looks like they're back.

According to a report from Phys Org, a wolf pack -- consisting of four male and one female -- traveled around 500 kilometers from Germany to western Denmark's agricultural land, marking the first time the species have been back in the country in 200 years. People have caught a glimpse of wolves in Denmark since 2012, but this is the first evidence that they've truly returned.

Video and prints revealed the location of the wolves, but the researchers are keeping mum to avoid hunters chasing down the rare wolves. After all, hunting played a huge part in eradicating the wolf population in the country.

"We expect that they will have cubs this year or the next," Peter Sunde, a senior researcher at Aarhus University, told The Guardian. "People were very surprised when wolves first appeared in Denmark but they are highly mobile and are just as adaptable to cultural landscapes as foxes are. The only problem historically is that we killed them."

As with anywhere else, it is unclear whether wolves can survive in Denmark. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences' Guillaume Chapron explained that without disturbance the wolves could continue to exist even in human-dominated landscapes.

However, there's no telling how people in Denmark will react to the presence of wolves in the long run, especially when they start feeding on the bountiful prey in the area. In hopes of getting ahead of the problem, the government of Denmark drew up a wolf management plan that includes compensation and funding for farmers to make their farms safe from the predators.

"Let the wolf decide and let people decide as well because we are sharing the landscape," Chapron said. "It's very positive news for nature conservation. It shows that attitudes have changed and when we let nature take care of itself, nature comes back."

Wolves have been reestablishing themselves in certain countries such as Germany where they began living in again in 1998. Their population has been growing in Germany at an encouraging rate of 25 to 30 percent every year.

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