Wolves Were Once Extinct in Germany, but This Week, a Man Was Bitten by One
Wolves, extinct in Germany for most of the 1900s, have made a remarkable comeback since 2000, and their presence often pits farmers against animal rights activists.
The controversy resurged this week when a 55-year-old man working at a cemetery in northern Germany told police he was attacked by a wolf.
The man was repairing a fence Tuesday at a cemetery in Steinfeld in the state of Lower Saxony when he felt something bite his hand, Deutsche Welle reported.
He turned and saw a wolf had grabbed his hand. In the distance, he saw three other wolves. He freed himself and shooed away the pack, according to a police statement.
A doctor later treated the man's minor hand injuries and reported the attack to authorities.
If the attack is confirmed as having been a wolf, it would be the first such attack since the animals resettled in Germany.
Bettina Dörr, a spokeswoman for Lower Saxony's local "Wolf Office," said experts hope to find DNA or other evidence that corroborates suspicions that the animal was a wolf, according to Westfälische Rundschau.
The number of wolves in Germany dwindled over the 19th century as they were hunted to extinction. The last one was killed in 1904, according to the Economist. After that, the wolves mainly lived in Eastern Europe.
Changes in the 1990s — such as stronger conversation efforts, tougher hunting rules and the opening of borders — led to the wolves migrating back into Germany around 2000.
This year, according to data released Nov. 12 by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Germany has an estimated 73 wolf packs, 30 wolf couples, and three lone wolves. That's up from 60 packs and 21 couples the year before. Altogether, the agency estimates that Germany has about 400 wolves.
"The continued positive development of the wolf population in Germany is in stark contrast to the dramatic worldwide loss of biodiversity. This success shows us that species benefit from strict protection," said Beate Jessel, president of the nature conservation agency.
Farmers and shepherds, however, say the growing wolf population poses a huge threat to their livestock. A newspaper survey in Lower Saxony found the number of farm animals killed by wolves in that state rose from 178 to 403 in 2017.
In a position paper on wolf management published Tuesday, the parliament's ruling conservative coalition called for wolves to be allowed to be hunted and to have their "strongly protected" species status to be downgraded.
What is your position on wolf hunting, fellow Zig Forumsack? Should wolves be exterminated in mostly urbanized regions as they were before, should they be allowed to grow unchecked, or should there be a compromise of some sort?