Wandering wolf killed in Zoersel, investigation investigates whether animal was part of Limburg pack (Zoersel)

Wandering wolf killed in Zoersel, investigation investigates whether animal was part of Limburg pack (Zoersel)
Wandering wolf killed in Zoersel, investigation investigates whether animal was part of Limburg pack (Zoersel)
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Although the animal managed to make optimal use of our infrastructure by moving via bridges and cycle paths, the dense road network in heavily built-up Flanders proved fatal. The wolf was hit by a car in Zoersel this afternoon and did not survive.

The Opglabbeek Nature Assistance Center picked up the animal. Further research will now be conducted into, among other things, the origins of the animal. The wolf could come from the Netherlands, France, Germany, the Ardennes… But the animal could just as easily be a yearling from Noëlla and August’s Limburg wolf pack. The latter also died last summer in a collision.

The young wolf was spotted on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 9, at the interchange of the E19/A12 in Antwerp North. According to witnesses, he was hesitating on the verge about crossing, but was careful and retraced his steps. A man driving to work at 6:15 am on Friday morning encountered him in Dennenlaan in Schilde. There is photo evidence of that. He was then in a quiet residential area near the Picardy Forests.

The wolf then probably walked via the Waterstraat towards Sint-Antonius (Zoersel). On Friday afternoon around 12.15 pm things went wrong in the Kwikaard, at the back of the Natural pigeon breeding station. A local resident accidentally killed the wolf. “Out of nowhere he walked in front of his van,” said a family member. “The van was also damaged.” The man does not want his name and photo in the newspaper, because it is all so sensitive. He immediately called the Voorkempen police when he noticed that he had collided with a wolf.

It was a young male wolf. — © Welcome Wolf

The collision happened in front of the Mertens Interieurschrijnwerk company. “The company gate was closed. He was lying with his head towards our driveway. Did he want to walk in here?” asks Lindsey Geens, who lives above the company. She was shocked when she came home in the afternoon. “The police were here. There was something in front of the gate that was covered with an aluminum warming blanket, to prevent passers-by from seeing what was there. The Opglabbeek Nature Aid Center came to pick up the carcass. The police waited with the wolf the entire time. That actually all happened quickly.”

Edouard Geelhand and Yente De Maesschalck from Welcome Wolf at the bloodstain in front of the gate. “We would have preferred to see the wolf in different circumstances.”

Edouard Geelhand and Yente De Maesschalck from Welcome Wolf at the bloodstain in front of the gate. “We would have preferred to see the wolf in different circumstances.” — © kma

Edouard Geelhand (25), originally from Kapellen but now living in Beerzel, and Yente De Maesschalck (23) from Schelle, arrived on the scene. They are both affiliated with Welcome Wolf. “We just saw him before they charged him. The animal had an abrasion on the right side, but its head was still intact. I thought it was a sturdy wolf with large legs. It’s a shame, but vagrants are always more at risk in traffic. And we have a dense road network here. It is certainly the fifteenth collision with wolves in Flanders, fortunately not all of them fatal.”

Volunteers from the Opglabbeek Nature Aid Center came to pick up the wolf.

Volunteers from the Opglabbeek Nature Aid Center came to pick up the wolf. — © Welcome Wolf

There is still blood in the middle of the street and in front of the gate. The Kwikaard is a quiet street in itself, especially now that the one at the back is temporarily closed for the construction of apartments. “But I heard from neighbors that people often drive fast here. Such a collision is often unavoidable. The wolf had the misfortune to be confined in a kind of corridor here, with hedges on one side and gates and fences on the other. He was forced onto the roadway here and could not get away.”

The wolf was covered.

The wolf was covered. — © Welcome Wolf

Yente De Maesschalck from Schelle has been fascinated by wolves since the arrival of the lamented she-wolf Naya. “Last week it was somewhat enclosed here between the Dessel-Schoten canal and the E19. I’ve been walking around here the past few days hoping to spot it, because they are powerful animals. It is very sad to see him this way. I was impressed.”

The Nature Aid Center in Opglabbeek will transfer the carcass to the Institute for Nature and Forest Research, which can use the DNA to investigate where this wolf came from. “It could be a brother of Emma – the wolf established in the Groot Schietveld region – from a later litter,” says Geelhand. “But the animal can also come from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland or France.”

Brechtse Heide

Double bad luck: the wolf that was hit was just a stone’s throw from the vast Brechtse Heide and the Trappist forests and Drieboomkensberg. A few hundred meters further and he was in a completely different landscape. Unfortunately, he turned into the wrong street towards the village center of Sint-Antonius.

In the afternoon, the wolf was already lying on the examination table at the vet in the Opglabbeek Nature Aid Center.

In the afternoon, the wolf was already lying on the examination table at the vet in the Opglabbeek Nature Aid Center. — © Welcome Wolf

It is very likely that he was still in Antwerp North the day before, and then returned to the location where he walked on Tuesday, because he was again close to Sint-Job. Apparently he was really looking for ways to cross the E19. Once he was very close, because he was spotted at the E10 lake in Schoten, where he could have safely crossed the highway. But he walked back.

His injuries are in the front of the flank and foreleg.

His injuries are in the front of the flank and foreleg. — © Welcome Wolf

The wolf had been wandering around for a long time, looking for a territory. On April 26, this wolf probably walked through Mol and on Sunday, May 5, it was still in Meersel-Dreef (Hoogstraten). It is unclear whether he smelled the proximity of she-wolf Emma and came there. It is certain that wolves can smell each other from a very long distance. At the end of 2019, she-wolf Noëlla, possibly the mother of this dead wolf, spent four nights in Zoersel. She then headed to Limburg to join August there in January. He was killed himself in Oudsbergen in Limburg in July last year. Its framework is set up by INBO.

She-wolf Emma was spotted in her permanent biotope in the Wuustwezel/Brecht region on Friday morning. Her potential partner was close by, but the E19 and the Flemish ribbon development put a stop to it.

Tags: Wandering wolf killed Zoersel investigation investigates animal part Limburg pack Zoersel

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