A well-known wolf park in southeast France was destroyed by Storm Alex, local officials have confirmed.
One wolf is known to have died and the whereabouts of 12 others that lived in Parc Alpha, in the Alpes-Maritimes, is unknown.
Officers from the PACA branch of the Office Français de la Biodiversité (OFB) will be sent to the area as soon as possible to track down the wolves and capture them with tranquiliser guns, regional director Eric Hansen said, confirming the park's destruction.
Alpha Parc housed three different species of wolf; European grey, Canadian and the white Arctic wolf. The dead wolf is a white Arctic wolf. The park aimed to give visitors the chance to better understand wolves.
The syndicate responsible for the Park, said on its Facebook page one day ago that the area was inaccessible but that helicopters had flown over and the park seemed to be destroyed though they couldn’t see some of the higher enclosures because of tree cover.
They said they had handed over details of the wolves and their tagging devices to the OFB, the Parc National du Mercantour and the Alpes-Maritimes Prefecture. They said their first priority was saving people and urged the public not to spread fake stories about the wolves.
Mr Hansen said on his LinkedIn site that officials are looking for somewhere to rehome the wolves, once they are recaptured.
Denise Leiboff, President of the Association des Communes Pastorales de la region SUD which represents local farmers said on her Facebook page she was very worried about the situation and hoped the Prefecture would help farmers protect their animals.
The OFB is quoted in the press as saying that because the wolves are not wild, they are most likely to stay near to their park, waiting for someone to feed them.