Farmers stage Grimm protest against big bad wolves in Hanover
Straight out of a medieval fairy tale, angry farmers gathered in Hanover's ancient centre with their dead livestock to protest the damage that wolves are doing to their livelihoods.
Tinka Bell, Snow White, Lillifee, Herkules and Marie lay dead in the middle of Hanover’s central square, their wounds open for all to see. A lone (plastic) wolf stood over them, growling.
This was how farmers from Lower Saxony demonstrated their opposition to the growing wolf problem in their state on Wednesday, according to broadcaster NDR.
Reminiscent of the Big Bad Wolf and the murdered goats from Grimm fairy tales, the emotive protest took place in Hanover's central square, which is usually bustling with Christmas shoppers at this time of year.
The animal corpses - including sheep, goats, and a Galloway calf - were recent victims of wolf attacks on the farms of the protesters. On top of their bloodied bodies the farmers had laid signs with their names and dates of birth.
The livestock killed by wolves were laid out in Hanover's central square. Photo: DPA
The political reaction
Just a stone’s throw from the protest, the environment minister of Lower Saxony, Stefan Wenzel (Green Party), was discussing the problem of wolves in the state parliament on Wednesday morning.
Wenzel announced that quicker advice and practical support for farmers would be provided.
“The fact is that timely precautions for farmers are indispensable,” he said, promising swift help for the affected.
Outside, the protesters made their opinions clear, holding placards reading “Wolves are destroying my future”, “Is the wolf more important than the human?” and “Wolves aren’t eating grass”.
Wenzel stated that “more effective protection of herds against wolves is possible,” also citing a recent local study of wolf excrement that showed that only 0.8 percent of their diet is comprised of livestock.
The minister argued that precautions such as electric fences, dogs, or even donkeys in herds could improve the situation, but admitted that in certain situations the “removal of an individual [wolf] is possible”.
Wolves in Germany
Wolves were once again spotted in the wild in Germany in 2000, after having been extinct for nearly 150 years.
Two wolves photographed in Lower Saxony in 2015. Photo: DPA
It is estimated by the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) that there are nine wolf packs in Lower Saxony and 40 across Germany.
The wolf population is rising in Germany, but the number of recorded attacks on animals in Lower Saxony decreased in the first nine months of this year. From January to September 2016, there were 38 attacks resulting in 96 deaths, compared to 47 attacks and 118 deaths in the same period of last year.
A map showing the locations of known wolf packs in Germany, accurate from April 2016. Source: Dirk Heider/ NABU press office
Earlier this year it was also announced that the government is spending nearly half a million euros to help teach the people of Berlin and surrounding Brandenburg how to live with wolves.
On Thursday, The Brandenburg Farmers Alliance also called for greater support in protecting their livestock from wolves, after at least 83 fatalities were caused by wolf attacks this year.