Two journalists of the Dutch newspaper NRC travelled over the past weeks, following in the footsteps of she-wolf Naya. They wanted to discover why the animal eventually Leopoldsburg chose as a new place of residence.
On december 19, 2017 was an ecologist Hugh Jansman Wageningen Environmental Research a phone call from his German colleague, Norman Bull, worked at the Technical University of Dresden. That day …
On december 19, 2017 was an ecologist Hugh Jansman Wageningen Environmental Research a phone call from his German colleague, Norman Bull, worked at the Technical University of Dresden. That there a day in advance a equipped she-wolf from Stiers research the Dutch-belgian border was crossed: Naya, born in 2016 on a military training area in the German Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Estimated weight: 40 pounds. Thanks to the GPS signals from her collar was her route accurately.
Later this year, hopes to Jansman, Naya’s journey to be analysed in detail, to gain insight into its activity from hour to hour. But the main lines of the story, he can already tell. Why Naya, for example, of all possible places to live just the Belgian military domain in Leopoldsburg chose. There she sits now for about three months.
Jansman: ‘There is nature and eating was in the Netherlands, that is not the problem. But in the ecology is, imprinting is very important. And so it is only logical that wolves who own dogs want to establish looking to go to a site that recalls their own youth.’
Why did Naya not in Germany?
That a young female wolf, the pack in which she was born to leave, is not surprising. Jansman: ‘In the pack, which combines, in principle, only the alfavrouwtje with the alpha male. The other wolvinnen often have a nurturing role, or assist in the hunting. So to make a private pack to begin with, she had to pull away from the group.”
At this moment, there are still so few wolves in Belgium and the Netherlands, that Naya the luxury had the perfect spot from which to choose, says Jansman. In the Netherlands there is still no ‘hard’ wolf. “But if the densities are higher, than wolves will also have to be satisfied with a second or third choice. In the field of culture may be closer to the people. Insofar as it is not – then you are a few generations ahead.’
That there are suddenly so many wolves in the Netherlands to be identified (at least four reliable sightings last year, and already more than ten observations this year) has to do with the growing wolf population in Germany. ‘There is the number of wolvenroedels within twenty or so years has increased from 1 to 74. Most of the top predators, such as bald eagles, the plants themselves slowly: they do it sometimes for five years to become adult, and then get two or three cubs. Wolves are after two years, reach sexual maturity, and they roll five to eight young.’
Will Naya here have a boyfriend?
At the beginning of march there was a mannetjeswolf signaled in our country, not far from where Naya was. But the two have presumably never met: the male was also killed. A prematurely fallen love? It could, says Jansman, but certainly it is not. ‘If you have a male and female wolf together, they will not necessarily reproduce. There should be a click, their character must match.’
For a visiting wolf will in any case not be difficult to Naya to detect. ‘Now she has her place of residence once chosen, she is busy with marking the boundaries of its territory: they defecate and urinates in the middle of the intersections of dirt roads, so that its traces easily found for ilk.’
The scent trail of a wolf remains on average two to three weeks ‘active’, depending on the amount of rain. It is not so that wolves from Germany is still the track that Naya by the Netherlands was able to follow.
Jansman: ‘Who knows, it still takes years until they find a partner. Her father was only for his family founded. It is a matter of patience.”
Log of the trip
18 december 2017-Location: along the L43
‘Mmmhh, lecker! ” is written in large letters on the canopy of Imbiss Pikkemaat. But the braadworstkraam, a few kilometers from the border with the Netherlands, is closed. Vague is the vetdamp still smell. Occasionally drive a car on the adjacent L43 – a way to beam light to drive, because street lighting is missing. And there was the chance that from the adjacent sparrenwoud suddenly a deer or deer cross the road. Or a wolf.
Although: a little wolf knows the roads to avoid. Who prowls in the dusk between the trees, over the moss-covered dead wood, along the halfbevroren the water, and rows of neatly stacked just sawn logs.
Here and there the old trees, the field is cleared for juveniles: Nordmann – or blauwsparren of not even half a meter high, neatly in line. The christmas trees of the future.
Hugh Jansman: ‘will Go to Naya as much as possible in hiding, also for people: not too much to leave traces, nowhere to stay long. In Germany, we see that they are with a large bow to another pack is heengetrokken. A lone wolf can survive such a meeting often don’t.’
December 18, 2017. Location: border between Germany and the Netherlands
Stiff of the konijnenactiviteit
Immediately after the sign ‘Welcome to Holland’ will change the landscape. No high advanced sparring more, but bare fields and meadows. Here and there a business. A wolf that is here around has a greater chance to be seen than in Germany. But wolves are mainly at night, when most people sleep. Still, those who have a wolf sees in the half-darkness, can quickly think of: a dog.
What remains are the wolvensporen. They don’t seem to hondensporen. The pootafdruk may seem that of a big dog, but a wolf walks very straightforward, dogs zig-zag more. And wolvenpoep does not look like dog poop: the droppings contain more hair and have a pointed tip, like a vossendrol, but bigger. A wolf eats its prey, often with skin and hair. A reeënschedel or konijnenbotten? The wolvenkaken crushing everything with ease fine. Only sheepskin is often thick and woolly to digest.
Hugh Jansman: ‘From Naya’s prey, I sometimes only tufts of fur found. Her prey besides deer mainly from hares and rabbits have existed along the way. Some of the places where they along has been saw the stiff of the konijnenactiviteit.’
December 18, 2017. Location: Boswachterij Hardenberg
Wolves are top level athletes
In the middle of nature ronkt the engine of a leaf blower. A man with green cap and shag in his pocket, removes the parking lot adjacent to the recreational lake with paved trail for the disabled neatly all the displeasing green. From his jeep resounds carnavalsmuziek.
In Boswachterij Hardenberg ‘nature and recreation together, reports the website. In the Netherlands, always everything together, there must be the wolf, but get used to it. This is her first encounter with Dutch wilderness. With exotic species like mountain bikers and runners and nordic walkers and vierpotigen on the line – but not with the pond and fountain with the sign ‘forbidden for dogs’.
The blower in the forest is called Ron. He is a volunteer from the Forestry commission. Wild have you here best, ” he says. But he would be the wolf would not recommend it to stay. ‘Night, when the forester is out, seem to see here the poachers to come. That shoot from their car on the roe.’
Hugh Jansman: ‘Wolves are real athletes, there is not a shred of fat. Per day will Naya 40 to 70 kilometers have walked, apart from the daily voedselrondes. In draftempo you can assume of about 10 kilometres per hour. The pace of wolves is very beautiful, very graceful – gesnoerde pace, it will be called.’
19 december 2017. Location: A28 in The Neighbourhood
Naya made rechtsomkeer
Almost had the wolf the 4,000 acres of the Dwingelderveld, the largest continuous area of wet heathland of Western-Europe. Then they can delight themselves on no less than two herds of Drenthe heideschapen.
But there was a way across. A28 Motorway. She bumped it between Meppel and Hoogeveen at the height of The District. A village with a swimming pool and a football club and a years-seventy-residential area with carports. Or they are a wolf, you have seen? A resident in front of his house nods. ‘Mr. Wolf.’ In the meantime, barber, Martin Wolf, is a concept in The District, after a polsblessure, with his eponymous hair salon (‘Here real Keerls’) departed from the village.
The highway, separated by a metersbrede closed, is four-lane. The traffic rages, with 130 mile-per-hour over it. ‘Before it was just pressure away the TT in Assen was held, ” says the 82-year-old Aldert Oetsen peering towards the road. He makes a walk on a narrow footpath along the road. Oetsen came as a child already on this path, each time he saw the road wider. ‘This used to be pasture.’
Oetsen points down. “Beware of the poop.’ The footpath is a popular hondenuitlaatpad. The small dogs found along the highway running just fine. They stay nicely on leash and to trust their boss. But the large hunting dogs, says Oetsen, restless. ‘Who keep not of the way.”
From this point drew the wolf only southern.
Hugh Jansman: ‘That the route of Naya from the northwest, suddenly such a crazy bend down, presumably because they are there on the A28 came across. My hypothesis is that they are early in the morning arrived, when the light began to be, and that they then turned back again.’
December 23, 2017. Location: Luttenberg
A dead sheep in the meadow
“There is something going on!’ cried the farmer away when he aanklopte. “There is a dead sheep in the meadow! Aangevroten!’ The 54-year-old Karla Schotman and her brother went immediately and found two of their sheep. Killed it in the neck. Just here in Luttenberg ” the Pearl of Salland’.
“This is not normal,” said her brother immediately. He informed the hunters of the village, and who thought immediately of a wolf. Because of the type of bite – a wolf eats everything with skin and hair, but wool lust-ie not. A wolvenexpert from Wageningen took tissue and confirmed their suspicions. Meanwhile there was of their flock, even a sheep killed. Karla Schotman points from her backyard to the pasture a hundred yards further. ‘This is where it happened.’
Some of the sheep were in their ass bitten, says Schotman. “You saw the traces of blood’. She has the sheep of her brother, some thirty pieces, have never been so hunted seen. “Normally, they stand together and graze in one place. Now they walked restless around, scattered over the whole meadow.’
Her brother has when all the sheep picked up and a few days in the fruit grove next to the house. Between the apple and the pear trees. ‘Close to home, that gave them peace of mind.”
Her brother is even angry. “That rotbeest is sheep,” he said. ‘My sheep.’ He hopes the damage – a sheep cost one hundred euros – to be able to stories. The wolf disturbs the natural balance, he says. But sister Karla Schotman think otherwise. ‘Who was here well before, the wolf or the man? The wolf was forced to travel, because we all cultivate.’
Hugh Jansman: ‘In Belgium, Naya, until now, one schapenslachtoffer made. She behaves very exemplary, and feeds primarily on natural prey. The sheep on the road will probably be a solution.’
December 24, 2017. Location: Sallandse Heuvelrug
Wolf is on a feast-or-famine diet
Forester Ine Nijveld heard only a few days later that she-wolf Naya in ‘her’ area had ventured. What her concerns are wolves welcome to the Sallandse Heuvelrug.
“I expect that our grouse they will, that is also evident from foreign research.’ There are only a few dozen grouse in the area; exact numbers are difficult to call, because the roosters and hens are outside the baltsperiode not easy to show. The birds sometimes prey to hawks and foxes, so more predation is not desirable. And if a wolf the Sallandse Heuvelrug choose for a longer stay, then there is (as in other areas) already have a special wolvendraaiboek ready, prepared by the inter-provincial Consultation, BIJ12/fauna fund and the ministry of Economic Affairs. Therein is what needs to be done with ‘probleemwolven’, and when damages may be granted.
A few kilometres from the visitor centre, is the sheepfold. Within sounds bleating; it is still too cold for the lambs and preterm lambs to the outside. Furthermore, they are here as safe, if there is yet again a wolf to come by.
Hugh Jansman: ‘Wolves often have a typical feast-or-famine diet: they can be up to 10 pounds of food, especially if they are also the pack need to feed – then they broke it for the other wolves back off. But they can also do a few days without food, especially on transit. One deer per three, four days is more than enough.’
December 28, 2017. Location: Bridge over the Rhine at Emmerik
Naya crosses the Rhine
How to light a wolf the Rhine? Wolves are great swimmers – the Twentekanaal, just south of the Sallandse Heuvelrug, will Naya without problems are crossed. But the Rhine looks much more impressive. She used here may be the bridge in Emmerik? Safe from automobilistenogen by the concrete blocks which the lane of the bike path separation.
Hugh Jansman : ‘The water of the Rhine was at the end of december high, and there was a lot of flow. If you assume that they are within an hour first on the north bank of the river stood, and then on the southern shore, then it is likely that the bridge is gone.’
December 31, 2017. The Groote Peel National Park
Naya celebrates new year’s eve
On new year’s eve organizes the Forestry commission traditionally a eindejaarswandeling in the Groote Peel. Ponds and wells remember in this area the once thriving economy of the turf. Now you will find there carnivorous sundew and lavendelheide. Also there are deer, woelratten, weasels, polecats, and wild boars. And gnomes with red hats, there is the forest full of them. But of the wolf no trace. Only in the visitors ‘ centre, as a hug.
Hugh Jansman: ‘Wolves are less able to discriminate colors than we do, but they can at night to see better. They focus primarily on movement. Also white, they may well perceive. Not for nothing are the major components of the wolvenlichaam – the ears, the mouth, the blikkerende teeth white. Wolves are also one of the few animal species that, just like we eyes. So they can of each other are sharp and see what they are watching.’
January 3, 2018. Location: Budel-Dorplein, the netherlands, near the Belgian border
Naya passes a pet shop
For deep-Dorplein (subtitle: ‘good fries’) turning the roast chickens continuously. The wolf has fixed likkebaardend looked at. But much more tasty had Naya can find in the pet store just down the road. Hertenpoten to three euros fifty, twenty-five runderoren for fifteen euros, hooves, achilles tendons, rabbit ears with forest honey and even whole schapenhoofden.
“Good vitaminebommen,” says owner Walter Strong while he one from the freezer. ‘The brain.’ His shop is located vól with fresh meat. ‘Much better than all those chunks.’
In the meantime, shows his wife Karin on her phone photos of their own pets. Wolfhounds – the offspring of a cross between a dog and a wolf . ‘Howl the same as a wolf.’
Close to the village would Naya have walked. Perhaps through the street from their pet shop, along the great wolvenfoto on the windows of fame. The logo of the shop is a howling wolf. Karin was Strong the wolf like to come across. Had Naya her with her bright, bright eyes from a distance look at, and the peloton chosen. Because wolves, like wolf-dogs, the confrontation rather out of the way. ‘Aggressive to people they are really not. Who that thinks has too much little red riding hood heard.”
January 15, 2018. Location: Military training area, Leopoldsburg, Belgium
Naya finds her place
Signs with skulls mark the military training area just over the border with Belgium. Safe area, should the wolf have thought of it. Here there is no fear for cars, poachers or nordic walkers. Only pine and spruce. And periodically light bullets.
Leopoldsburg seems to be the most on the ground in Germany, where she grew up. They will recognize here the sand, the military tire tracks, the lack of human scent. Here she can finally field to mark it as her territory.
The training area is as a scale model on display in the adjacent museum. ‘Forty thousand soldiers were once stationed, ” says the Belgian overseer with a French accent. The small balding man, hands in pockets, kicked it in 36 years, from soldier to non-commissioned officer in the army. He was mainly on the tank. As a gunner, loader, driver and later the chef.
And all those years he has enjoyed the peace and quiet on the training ground. ‘You do know that there is no enemy.’ Then he lay with his binoculars to observe, and he saw deer, blackbirds, and rabbits.
But the wolf understand this training ground has been chosen, get the supervisor. Her German geboorteterrein, where he and the military are also controlled, was much more expansive. “There we were allowed to fire with the heaviest ammo. 120 millimeters!’ At Leopoldsburg may only be shot with machine guns. “Otherwise, we hit the surrounding villages.’
Hugh Jansman : ‘As a ganzenkuiken the first living thing that he sees when he is out of the egg is crawled as his mother, considers, attach wolves to the type of habitat from their youth. Naya grew up on a heideterrein with open sand plains, with a low density of people – and hondengeuren. A military training area, just as they have now in Leopoldsburg has found. If they are in the Netherlands, the IJssel river was crossed, than it was well possible that they are there on camp Harskamp had established.’