On Tuesday, May 24, several farms were attacked by Savoyard farmers. Gendarmes and agents from the French Office of Biodiversity intervened as part of an investigation opened in March 2021, following the poisoning of two wolves and two bearded vultures – strictly protected species – in the Vanoise National Park.
Who poisoned protected animals? And why ? These two issues are at the heart of a judicial inquiry opened by Albertville’s prosecution more than a year ago, which has so far yielded nothing.
It all started in March 2021, when two wolf corpses were discovered by guards at Vanoise Park in Savoie. A few weeks later, two bearded vultures, an adult and a chicken, were found dead in their nest. These birds of prey, from a protected species like the wolf, were closely monitored by the park. To this list is added the unexplained death of a dozen wild animals, including a fox and a weasel.
Faced with these suspicious deaths, a judicial inquiry was launched on 30 April 2021 into a joint referral between the Gendarmerie, the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) and Vanoise Park.
Analyzes are made on the bodies and reveal that the animals have all been poisoned. According to our colleagues from Le Monde, they were poisoned with insecticides from the carbamate family, which are lethal even at very small doses. However, these substances have been banned in the EU and France since 2008.
Are these illegal drugs the ones the gendarmes were looking for last week? More than a year after the opening of the investigation, the agricultural association FDSEA 73 announced it “eleven farms in Haute-Maurienne” had been searched by police on 24 May.
“Six men arriving at your house at 7.15, some of them wearing bulletproof vests, we think we are taken for criminals“, says Michel, one of the raided breeders and general secretary of the Savoyard section of the FDSEA.
The contact confirms the public prosecutor in Albertville that “searches“took place among several farmers at the end of May, but refused to specify whether elements had been found that made it possible to create a connection with the poisoning of the wolves.
Although no connection has yet been established, the hypothesis that the poison was aimed at wolves – even though it meant causing security casualties like bearded vultures – is on everyone’s minds. This is in particular the analysis of Marie-Paule de Thiersant, President of the League for the Protection of Birds in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. “What could have happened is that we put poison on pieces of meatshe explained at the microphone on France 2 in February last year. These pieces of meat have been scattered in the wild in the hope that the wolf will come and eat them. Which it did, for two wolves died. But there was not only the wolf: there was the fox, the corvettes and at the end of the chain the bearded vulture. “.
A few weeks before the discovery of corpses, several wolf packs had been seen around Modane in Savoie.
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A pack of wolves filmed in the middle of the street, in Modane.
Coexistence with the predator is also a source of great excitement for breeders and hunters, who regularly ask the prefecture for the right to kill more wolves.
According to DREAL Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, 3093 domestic animals were killed by canines in 2020 in the three departments of the Alps.
Asked by our colleagues from France 2, Jean-Claude Raffin, the mayor of Modane, believes that the author or authors of the poisoning of the wolf wanted to mark their irritation over its spread in the massif. “I think it’s more of a scream of alarm, he explains. They have the impression that nothing is being done, and for them it is an extreme way that I condemn to be heard. “.
The contact confirms the public prosecutor in Albertville that “searches“actually took place in the farmers’ homes at the end of May, but refused to specify whether elements had been found that made it possible to link the poisoning of the wolves.
The breeders, for their part, deny having any responsibility in the matter. “It’s agri-bashingdeclares René Féchoz, one of the members of FDSEA 73, which has set up a psychological support unit for the farmers concerned. We do not appreciate this kind of methods. Especially at the moment with the wolf attacks that our breeders are suffering from“.
“Especially since we had nothing to blame ourselves foradds another breeder. The best proof is that they found nothing. But you can imagine the shock it caused in our villages to see such an deployment of strength!“.
“Following these searches, the Albertville Public Prosecutor’s Office ensures that an official statement on the case will be made soon.”in collaboration with the gendarmerie and the environmental police“. Contacted, Vanoise Park has not yet responded to our requests.