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Plea for a black sheep

dimanche 10 novembre 2002, par Redwolf

(Translation of the french Version)

No animal had ever caught the imagination of people in that way. A wolf ! It’s been haunting our nights and feeding our fears, it’s been living in our mind for thousands of years. What haven’t we accused it of ? What haven’t we punished it for ? So much si that it’s been extinct in our country for half a century. But here it is again. In 1992, it first settled in the Mercantour massif and now it’s populating part of the French Alps.

How did it manage to come back ? How did it came back from Italy, from the Abruzzes and the outskirts of Rome ? How did it avoid the trappers and killers ? Which watersheds did it used to thread it’s way back ? That’s it’s secret, it’s mystery. The important fact is that it’s giving us a second chance and probably the last one. A chance to rethink and rebuild our relation with wildlife with less conflicting roots.

The planet is sustaining a dramatic crisis thru which thousands of vegetal and animal species are going to disappear forever. Preserving the biodiversity of these species and varieties isn’t just another slogan in a speech, it’s an obligation to us all. In the field, there is no doubt that it is easier to give a lecture to the nations of Africa, though the continent may be ravaged by misery, war and disease. But if we give it a second thought, our wolves are simply their elephants and we now possess the knowledge to achieve a peaceful living with them. How many are they in our country ? Maybe about a good thirty, which is already too many for some. Several wolves have been killed, most of the time poisoned as in times past. More will be killed in springtime by outlawed hunters. Still none of the public authorities had so far the courage to raise the voice and recall that the wolf is a protected specie thru the agreement on the international Berne convention and the directive on settlements. Furthermore, who would admit that the return of the wolf is at the end nothing but a wonderful gift of nature ?

But let’s be sure to clear any misunderstanding. We have never thought that the wolf had all the rights. The mountains are inhabited by men and many other species of animals both wild or domestic. But every year the wolf eats a few hundreds of ewes, as it’s been actually always doing. It’s infinitesimally less that the amount of loss due to lighting or stray dogs but it’s still an unbearable trauma for breeders who are suffering an endless crisis. Nevertheless, this crisis shall not make the wolf falsely guilty of the economic difficulties they are facing.

As long as this crisis will last, it is obvious that a sustainable way of protecting the herds has to be achieved. In case of attack and loss of cattle, appropriate indemnities are to be provided, taking into account psychological factors such as the stress of the breeder in such confrontations. Having said that, it seems that a more fundamental question is brought to our mind : is coexistence between wildlife and our civilisation still possible ? We are convinced that the answer is yes.

Indeed, nothing is simple, nothing is easy, but we think that a renewed pastoral exploitation, which would make use, as in other countries, of the very effective use of herd protection dogs and shepherd would allow us to examine the matter of the wolf presence with a renewed perspective. In the Montana, as in numerous wild areas of the American continent, herds of thousands of animas are spending months next to grizzlies and wolves packs without being decimated. France can then surely give shelter to a few tens of wolves without sinking in a bad psychodrama.

We solemnly ask to the French government to take up it’s duty of protection and respect of the Berne convention thru strict sanctions especially regarding acts of poaching. It is unjustifiable that, after having allowed the bear to disappear of the Pyrenees, we allow today the eradication of the wolf. This animal is obviously a symbol and a looking glass thru with we can and should watch. But it is also a living being ! Living ! And it will stay alive as long as man let him do. Welcome and long live the wolf !


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(This text was first published by "Terre Sauvage" in may 2000 - It is reused, translated and adapted with the kind authorisation of Olivier Milhomme)

Pictures : © Jean Pierre Olmi
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