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National park to send rare breed sheep abroad to escape the wolf

A young mouflon. Photo: R Lencer via Wikipedia Commons

The Hoge Veluwe national park is placing its flock of rare breed mouflon sheep behind a fence to protect the animals from roaming wolves, park ranger Jakob Leidekker has told local broadcaster Omroep Gelderland.

In addition, park officials are exploring the options of moving some the sheep abroad in order to preserve the breed, Leidekker said.

The sheep is not indigenous to the Netherlands but the mouflon flock has been roaming the Veluwe heathlands for the past 100 years. It has a key role in keeping down unwanted vegetation.

The park’s authorities have always been opposed to the arrival of the wolf in the region. Several are known to have settled in the Veluwe and to have bred successfully.

‘You can catch them, or shoot them, it does not matter to us, we just want rid of them,’ Leidekker said.

Wolves have killed ‘several dozen’ of the 200 plus sheep living on the Veluwe this year. The arrival of the wolf has, however, meant that the annual cull of mouflon, to keep their numbers down, has not been necessary.

Meanwhile, throughout the Veluwe region, a record number of wild boar have been shot in the last three months in an effort to control numbers.

Wildlife management expert say that this year’s goal, to cull some 8,800 Veluwe boar may become reality by the end of the season on February 1, aided by the lack of food and, ironically, the presence of wolves.

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