LYON, France (Reuters) - Farmers trucked hundreds of sheep into a central square in the French city of Lyon on Monday in protest against the government’s protection of wolves, which they blame for livestock deaths and heavy financial losses.
European wolves were hunted to extinction in France in the 1930s but a pair crossed the Alps from Italy in the early 1990s and they now number about 360 in packs scattered across the country, according to wildlife groups.
As their population has rebounded, they have encroached increasingly on farmland.
“10,000 animals killed every year by the wolf,” read one banner
Michele Boudoin, president of the National Sheep Federation, said wolves were costing livestock producers 26 million euros a year compared with 1.5 million euros in 2004.
“Enough with the wolf,” Boudoin exclaimed. “At some point you have to choose between farmers and the wolf.”
A new five-year government plan allows a small number of wolves to be culled each year, according to French media, but farmers are demanding the right to shoot dead any wolf that attacks their herds.
Reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Gareth Jones