The animal, now known to be a wolf, was photographed on November 22, after being seen prowling around a field of vines in the commune of Saint-Thomas-de-Conac, near La Rochelle in Charente-Maritime (Nouvelle-Aquitaine).
The animal’s species - official name canis lupus lupus - was confirmed by national wildlife and nature agency l'Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS).
The discovery comes after several dead ewes were found in the department around two weeks’ prior, on an organic farm (Grevelle Farm), Charente-Maritime authorities said. Yet, the ONCFS has stopped short of confirming a definite link between the ewe deaths and the wolf sighting.
Investigations are continuing to determine the origin of the animal, and to gather information that may allow authorities to track it down.
The ONCFS reminded the public that the grey wolf is a protected species in France, and should not be hunted or otherwise disturbed if seen.
Any wolf sighting, or suspected animal attack - either on domestic or farm animals - should be quickly reported to the relevant department authorities, or to the ONCFS, it said.
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