Right to roam: Canis lupus, the European grey wolf. Photo Credit: Karen O'Reilley/500px via Getty Images

Animals United Kingdom10. April 2024

This Man’s Mission: Reintroducing Wolves to His Town

An important figure in British conservation has turned his attention to the wolf as his latest rewilding project, given that the predator has been successfully reintroduced across Europe, in a country that long demonized the sheep’s mortal enemy.

“I want to focus on species that need a hand,” explains Derek Gow, a former sheep farmer and zoo worker turned conservationist and defender of the wolf.

Gow started with captive-breeding water voles 25 years ago on his 162-hectare-returned-to-nature rewilding farm. Since then, 25,000 highly endangered mammals have been reintroduced to wetlands; his “vole room” still produces 1,000 yearly. Over the years, he has bred turtle doves, white and black storks, glowworms, and beavers, the latter now recognized as a native species once more. He wants to bring back the wolf since the species is thriving in densely populated countries like Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. According to ecologists, Scotland has the space for 50 to 94 wolf packs. Among the environmental benefits of bringing back the wolf is reducing the 2m deer population, which grows by 10% each year and lives at a far higher density than any other European country. High-tech solutions could keep sheep safe, such as a sheep collar emitting a wolf pheromone, like in Switzerland. That way, coexistence between farmers and wolves would be conceivable, possibly when future generations take charge. “We’ll have a different cultural landscape enabling them to do this. Therein lies hope.”

The Guardian

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