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Shepherds in wolf protest in streets

Sheep driven through Var town as farmers complain they are losing increasing numbers of animals to wolves

SHEPHERDS have taken to the streets - with hundreds of sheep - in Brignoles in the Var to protest against increasing wolf attacks on their herds.

More than 100 shepherds drove their flocks through the town during the local agricultural fair complaining there were around 200 wolves in the Alps and "the real species on the verge of extinction is us, the shepherds and the country life".

They told Var Matin they wanted to sound the alarm on a growing problem with the increasing attacks on their flocks.

"We protect the wolf at all cost, by every means possible, while our animals are massacred!"

They said there was no means of controlling the wolves and it was time for the state to act to regain control - or the way of life of thousands of families could be affected.

"When the first wolves appeared in the Var, towards Comps and Canjuers, people thought we were crazy. Now there are thought to be 200 in the Alps, but no one really knows. Looking at the frequency of attacks it could easily be double."

Philippe Fabre, of the Var sheep and goat federation, said he lost 250 from his flock at La Roque-Esclapon last year. The wolf was gaining ground and was now present in all of Haut Var, from Comps to Saine-Baume, and had also been seen on the lowlands towards Avignon and Valence.

Jean-François Bataille, of the research station Institut de l'Elevage, told the paper: "Around 2,400 farmers with around 740,000 animals work in the area concerned - often in outlying, remote areas; so very exposed to the wolf. This farming method has created our countryside and continues to do so. But once wolves are confirmed in an area it is abandoned, left to return to scrub."

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