A spokesman for the Brandenburg environment ministry said on Wednesday that a wolf pack known to be active in the area had attacked a pack of “Kerry Hill” breed sheep late on Saturday night.
The sheep were in a field surrounded by a 1.4-metre-high fence, Bild newspaper reported. But the wolves outsmarted the farmer’s efforts to keep the flock safe – sneaking under the lowest electric rung, which was clearly too high to be effective at keeping out intruders.
Early on Sunday morning, a farmer in the Birkhorst area of Beelitz, 38 kilometres south west of Berlin, made the gruesome discovery. All the dead sheep had deep bites on their necks offering initial indication that the attack was by wolves.
Three other sheep survived, one of these was attacked but only had very minor bite wounds.
Wolf expert Kay-Uwe Hartleb told the Bild that “a domestic dog does not kill like this. A wolf always gives the final blow through the windpipe of their victim. The animal suffocates.”
There is a known pack of wolves towards the west of the city, but it is not clear whether they are behind the attack. If not, it could mean that more of the animals are settling in countryside around Berlin.
In November 2012, the pack out west was photographed with cubs. “The pictures make it clear that the wider area of Berlin-Brandenburg has finally become wolf territory,” said Janosch Arnold of the WWF in a statement last year.
The researchers are keen to see the wolves tolerated and to prevent conflicts with farmers, like on Saturday night in Beelitz.
Wolf attacks on a flock in 2002 in Mühlrose killed 33 sheep and led to the introduction of closer wolf management strategies.
“The aim must be to guarantee a seamless management of the wolf population and to avoid conflicts with livestock farmers, hunters, and tourism,” said Arnold.
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