The wild wolf has returned for the first time in more than a century to Belgium, which has become the last country in continental Europe to report a sighting of the resurgent species.
The animal, which was wearing an electronic tracker, was detected in the Northern Belgian region of Flanders this month.
The tracker showed the wolf had travelled from Germany via the Netherlands, where it was spotted around Christmas, and had covered about 310 miles in ten days.
Wolves disappeared from most of Western Europe from the beginning of the 20th century because of hunting, growing cities and industrialisation but are now recolonising the continent.
“Our country was the only one in continental Europe to have not been visited by a wolf,” said environmental group Landschap.
Where did Britain’s wolves go?
The wolf has, since 1979’s Bern Convention, been rehabilitated from scourge of farmers and public menace to a protected species that is “a fundamental element of our natural European heritage”.
The sighting was welcomed by campaigners who called on the Belgian government to adopt a strategy to encourage the return of the wolf.
Farmers in France, Italy and Spain are unhappy that the wolf has returned to their countryside. In countries that never lost their wolves, such as Romania and Poland, attacks on livestock are viewed with equanimity as unavoidable.
In 2011, cameras picked up images of what could have been a wolf in the Ardennes region of Southern Belgium but the sighting was never confirmed.
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