Wolf cull approved after new attacks
Environmental group hits out as minister says 11 wolves can be killed in coming year - a rise from last year
A CULL of wolves has been authorised for the coming 12 months after an increase in attacks on flocks of sheep and goats.
Outgoing Ecology Minister Odile Gauthier signed an order allowing the killing of up to 11 wolves - a rise from last year's quota of six.
Wolves are a protected species and there are thought to be around 200 in France. They have spread into the Vosges in the past year.
Environmental group France Nature Environnement has attacked the decision. Its wolf protection officer Jean-David Abel said that the increase in the population did not warrant a 180% rise in the numbers that could be legally killed.
The government Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage wildlife body said that 12 wolves had been found dead in 2011, some killed by hunters or poachers and some by natural causes or accidents.
Mr Abel said the rise was politicians' way of venting the rage of the farming world. It suggests that "destroying wolves is the way to protect flocks. Instead of saying protection first, prevention first, they are signalling an increase in the destruction of a protected species."
The cull order applies in 12 departments: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Drôme, Isère, Pyrénées-Orientales, Savoie, Haut-Rhin, Haute-Saône, Haute-Savoie, Vosges and Var. Haut-Rhin, Vosges and Haute-Saône have been added to the list since the last order.
Once eight wolves have been killed the order bans any further warning shots to be fired and allows only defensive action.