In the Hoge Veluwe National Park in the heart of the Netherlands, there have been several reports in recent weeks of wolves with “unnatural” behavior daring to approach humans. Given the risks involved, wardens in the province of Gelderland can now use paintball launchers to shoot these ‘problem wolves’.
The Flemish Forest and Nature Agency also has such an instrument if similar situations arise in Flanders. “By touching the wolf with paintballs, the animal again associates humans with danger: a ball that touches a wolf will not hurt him, but will cause pain on the spot. This, in our opinion, is a very good measure to teach the young animals to be afraid of men,” explains Dries Gorissen, wolf policy coordinator at the Flemish agency.
The paintballs are biodegradable, but remain on the animal’s fur for some time, which makes it possible to assess the relevance of the measure, says the agency, which has also provided training for forest guards and supervisors.
However, the Flemish Forest and Nature Agency points out that there is currently no indication that it is necessary to use the technique used in the Netherlands, as the wolves found in the northern part of the country show being shy to say the least.