Science - March 12, 2015

Study to prove whether sheep was wolf’s victim

Text:
Roelof Kleis

A sheep from Nieuw-Amsterdam in Drenthe which may have been killed by a wolf is now in the freezer at Alterra. DNA research is to prove whether the animal was killed by a wolf.

The sheep was found by its owner on Saturday morning. Shortly afterwards he saw on television that a wolf had been sighted in the area. It was an obvious conclusion that the wolf could have attacked his sheep, a Texel Elite. He contacted the Fauna Fund, which came straightaway to take samples.

Both the sheep and the samples were delivered to Alterra on Sunday. Hugh Jansman and Dennis Lammertsma have been studying the sheep. DNA analysis will deliver a verdict on the culprit – a wolf or a dog – at the end of this week at the earliest, says spokesperson Bert Jansen. If the sheep was killed by a wolf, further research will be needed to determine which pack the animal comes from. As well as evidence from the dead sheep, Alterra will also analyse DNA samples taken from a possible second victim. This is a sheep from a different flock which was attacked too, says Jansen, but survived.

This research has come to Alterra on account of the institute’s Wolf Plan. This document, drawn up by Alterra at the behest of the former ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, offers a precise plan for coping with the possible arrival of the wolf in the Netherlands. In it, Alterra proposes Alterra establishing a Wolf Office. No such bureau has been established to date. However, all parties agreed on the role of Alterra in the forensic research, says Jansen.


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