A reinforced defense shooting order was taken by the Hérault Prefecture after numerous attacks by sheep, while there are only four specimens of wolves in the department and about fifteen in Occitania.
Its presence still arouses almost reptile fear in us, nurtured by centuries of tales and legends. The wolf undoubtedly fascinates us as much as it frightens us. Massively present in the Alps and the Pyrenees, this animal, capable of traveling 70 km a day, stretches a little more each year. When flock attacks are too numerous or destructive, the prefects are allowed to publish defensive shooting orders as an exception. In 2022, 174 shots were approved in France compared to 118 in 2021.
15 ewes killed on Larzac in spring
If a decline in predation is observed nationally this year, this is not the case in Occitania, where a herd was decimated in the Hautes Pyrénées at Hautacam. In the one-month batch, 15 attacks hit 16 breeders and killed 31 animals. The pace of attacks has also accelerated in recent weeks on Larzac with 15 sheep killed, particularly in the Saint-Maurice-de-Navacelles sector. Confirmation of an increase in damage in Hérault: 10 in 2019, 25 in 2020, 33 in 2021. This is what motivated the reinforced defense shooting order from the prefect Hérault, which explains (see opposite).
62 people have permits on the ward to participate in these recordings, in groups of a maximum of five with sophisticated equipment such as thermal spectacles. “As soon as a wolf is slaughtered in the sector concerned, it will be declared, declared to the competent DREAL Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and this will be included in the total national tax quota and the application of the tax levy will cease immediately.” indicates the prefect.
Something well framed therefore, but which nevertheless makes the associations for the defense of wildlife jump in the light of the low number of wolves formally identified in Hérault (four). Especially since a female, often seen in the area for a year, can create a herd. Sébastien Giraud, Head of Communications for the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (ASPAS 34), believes that “The wolf’s presence in a sector is, on the contrary, a good indicator of biodiversity because it is an umbrella species, a prestigious presence. A wolf is as precious in our imagination as a century-old oak, a cathedral or a castle.”
Tension climate between breeders and naturalists
According to him, many breeders would be “favorable for coexistence with the animal. For some of them, the wolf is really just the drop of water that comes on top of many other problems.” Animal rights activists depend on the compensation of the killed animals and, above all, on the fact that certain protection measures are largely supported, such as electric fences or the purchase of patou dogs to defend the herds. Many breeders do not use it and take refuge behind the fact that they are in a classified area that is difficult to protect (ZDP).
This creates a climate and tense situations on the Larzac plateau. “We are constantly receiving threats, also from other natural scientists, apologizes Sébastien Giraud. Breeders who play the game also face criticism from those who are less well protected. “. Most did not respond to our requests. “We must protect the wolf but also ensure that it does not multiply too much, it is a balance that must be found”, says Nicolas Malan, breeder in Lodévois. An area where the wolf has not yet come down, but where it has lost about sixty sheep to attack by stray dogs, which can also be very deadly, but only compensated if the owner of the dog is identified.
For Sebastien Giraud “We have to teach the wolf again to be afraid of humans. Shooting is counterproductive because a herd that settles down does so in an area of 200 hectares. If one of the elements is killed, the herd will divide and occupy. a larger territory … “ Between stories and narratives …