Farmers fear that the 800,000 sheep and 500,000 cattle in France’s largest sheep-breeding area are at risk as the scientists confirmed that wolves were on the hunt in the area famed for its Roquefort.
Video evidence helped confirm one attack – the others were ‘possible’ – but farmers echoed demands from those in the south-east who have called for tougher action to get rid of the predator.
Ministry officials are also investigating another attack that may have killed three sheep in the Causses area at Saint-Georges-de-Luzençon, while traces of the presence of wolves have also recently been confirmed in the regions of Essonne, Yvelines and Val-de- Marne near Paris.
The Environment Minister Ségolène Royal has rejected calls for ‘wolf exclusion zones’ to protect flocks in Savoie. But while she left open the question of whether an anti-wolf squad – similar to that in Alpes-Maritimes – could be set up, she did not offer any funding.
Wolves were blamed for 9,000 farmed animal deaths in 2015.