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Wolves prowl into northern territory

Authorities launch inquiry after endangered animal found shot dead near village 150km east of Paris

THE remains of an adult wolf have been discovered 150km east of Paris, the first time one has been found so far north in France in almost a century.

The body of the animal, which had been shot dead, was found in the commune of Coole, in the Marne region.

“We have confirmation by a national expert that it is a wolf (and) was probably shot in the middle of last week," said Yann Dacquay, Marne’s deputy departmental director.

He said the wolf had not been killed instantly but travelled a little further before dying.

Wolves have previously been spotted in l’Aube, Haute-Marne and the Ardennes.

The discovery raises questions about why the wolf was travelling so far north and whether it was part of a pack. Animal protection groups believe that a single animal – a lone wolf – had strayed from the Vosges mountains, 200 miles further east. But farmers and hunters suspect that at least two wolves have been living in dense woodland.

Wolves are protected under European law. They cannot be hunted or poisoned – as they were to extinction in France in the early 20th century. The National Office for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) has launched an inquiry, and whoever shot the animal may be liable to a fine for killing an endangered species.

Since the end of May 2013, sheep farmers in Haute-Marne and l’Aube had suffered more than two dozen wolf attacks, with the loss of 100 sheep.

Farmers' organisations across France have been demanding a suspension of the animals’ protected status. Wolves are blamed for 5,000 sheep deaths a year, double the number of five years ago.

There are believed to be up to 300 wolves in France in an estimated 20 to 25 packs.

Photo: Alois Staudacher

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