Erwin van Maanen of the Rewilding Foundation co-authored a new Dutch book on the wolf within a collaborative frame of Wolves in the Netherlands foundation. The book is titled The wolf back; scary or exciting? It is aimed at informing the general public on the mythology, historical relationship with humans, ecology, human dimensions, environmental philosophy and rewilding with the wolf. The book collates various literature findings and thoughts on the wolf in the context of the Dutch and Flemish lowlands, placed in historical and modern perspective. It contains a number of illustrations (including a painting by contemporary artist Walton Ford) and photo’s.
The book was published at the end of February and the timing couldn’t be better, as two weeks later a lone wolf walked from Germany into the Netherlands. It is the first wolf recorded in the Netherlands with absolute certainty, since the last wolf was shot in the mid-nineteenth Century.
It was a bit of an odd case, as the animal showed indifference toward humans and appeared to be determined and fixed to ‘go west’. The animal first appeared in the open in western Germany at the end of February and walked along roads, in open fields and through villages. Many people saw the animal. It then walked into the Netherlands near a place called Sleen, in the province of Drenthe. It created tremendous media and public attention. And the wolf was much displayed as a caricature, even in the political playing field of the coinciding provincial elections. Much of what is described in the new wolfbook about human thoughts on the wolf is still applicable in modern times, as this lone wolf aroused. The authorities wanted to catch the animal and radio-collar it, to the dislike of many citizens. But the wolf was evasive enough, walking continuously out of reach across the open (polder) or thinly wooded country side and again passing through villages; occasionally appearing disoriented and stressed by so much attention. It posed no danger to humans, but did try to catch a sheep and was chased away by the farmer. The ‘polder wolf’ was recorded on image by many.
It then went up north into the province of Groningen and eventually hit the coastline. The day afterward it went back east into northern Germany, were it was again chased by the authorities, to then vanish, perhaps finally finding a proper area to settle and with a bit of rest. This ‘first wolf’ since eons raised a lot of questions of whether the Netherlands is a suitable country for large carnivores like the wolf or lynx to settle.
The wandering animal is thought to be a juvenile she-wolf originating from a recently established pack on a military practice site near Munster. Some German wolf experts attribute the “lack of fear” or indifference of the animal toward humans to habituation by military personnel. Wolves are now increasingly settling in many places in Germany, particularly along a east to nortwest line. They seem to favor the seclusion of military practice sites. There is a core area of clustered packs (a little more than 16 packs at present) in the region of Lausitz, on the border with the Tjech Republic.