Belgian wolves

At least one pack member visible to everyone

Below a telling image from a misty morning during late summer 2023: one of this year’s cubs from the Flemish wolf pack in Limburg. Banned, polarised and monopolised by all kinds of authorities, organisations and associations. Both pro and against the wolf. There is some writing and boasting regarding this apex predator. This has been the case since wolves recolonized Belgium a few years ago. Typical of humanity. I prefer to stay far away from it. But hey, that’s an opinion. After all, everyone has their own (green) frame of reference, ideas and personal feelings.

And in any case, the cutthroat traffic and the dense network of roads in Flanders and the Ardennes do their job. At least for those who would rather see animals dead than alive. It is downright terrifying how many wolves have been killed on the roads in recent years if you add them all up! And not just young animals. Alphas too!

Sunday the 17th of September 2023

The naturalists and wolf watchers present today didn’t care. Once again pure enjoyment! Goosebumps! Even after 15 years of wolf watching, your heart continues to beat faster when this animal looks you in the eye. Simply amazing! The five-month-old puppy had no problems at all with the enthusiasts present. He allowed himself to be observed and photographed for 20 minutes, provided a safe distance was maintained and respected. Afterwards he neatly looked for his hiding place again. The wolf was only briefly startled by an unknowing hiker and his dog. But just as urban foxes are now more assertive, this young wolf also continued its morning stroll and hunt after emerging from its hiding place. He dug up a dead mole lying in a ploughed field and, literally, threw it into the air and into his mouth.

The day before, the young wolf was also observed hunting rodents in another freshly mown field. Occupants of the stationed vehicles experienced one of the better wildlife mornings of their lives.

The surrounding fields bordering the forbidden military area (the core area of the alpha couple; now sadly only a female as the male was hit and killed by a car last month), have been providing both food (rodents) and shelter (corn fields) for some time. For over a month, according to bystanders. In recent years, cubs from previous litters have done the same. So this place is not that secret. This animal looks healthy, at least so far, and clearly feels happy. This really wasn’t a bloodthirsty animal like Duffel’s wolf (2020) – haha!

Dutch and Belgian wolves three weekends in a row btw! Spoiled! And after sightings in the Netherlands (last weekend a pack of 9 individuals together), Finland, Poland and Spain, with this sighting now I have added a wolf in Belgium this year. Joy and happiness!

Dead or alive?

Disappointing and deeply saddened was yet another report of a wolf being hit by a car, a week after the wonderful observations of September 16 and 17. After all, various online channels show images of the fifth member of the local pack this year to be found dead after a collision with a car. A blessing in disguise of this horrible news on Sunday September 24, is the text message of a wolf sighting  a few days later. The message I receive comes from an early nature friend with whom I laid the cradle of my current knowledge and passion for nature. Something that you always cherish as permanently positive! After all, it is these friends from the very beginning who ensured that life took a turn and, now 30 years later, provided endless pleasure, amazement and experience in terms of nature.

To my great relief, judging from the photos, my suspicions are confirmed: the dead animal from earlier turned out not to be the wolf seen by me on September the 17th. After all, the photos accompanying the text message show exactly the same profile and color pattern of the animal’s head of September the 17th. Unlike his younger brother, he is alive and healthy!  Really, really happy with that message!

Kris’s experience of September the 28th, ratified and endorsed by one of his outstanding pro pictures:

So, I got up very early today to be there on time in peace and quiet. But then it happens! Suddenly, at the crack of dawn and first light, I actually have the feeling that I see a shadow on the field. My binoculars quickly provide clarity: both eyes of a young wolf, laying down on the field I am looking at, stare calmly at me. Even though it is still almost dark, I carefully take the first photos. After all, with a setting of 20,000 ISO on my camera, a lot is possible. The Wolf gets up a little later and slowly and cautiously begins his search for mice and moles. Caught by the observation, I remain, to my own surprise, calm. The feeling of euphoria is something that is fully expressed when the animal takes cover in the artificial vegetation of the local corn fields. Finally my first wolf in Belgium! And that face to face at thirty meters!

Thanks to Ronan FelixJohn Wright and Kris De Rouck for their contribution to this newsitem ; camaraderie related to the same passion!