Wolf found in Belgium for the first time in over 100 years

Picture: A wolf in its enclosure in Thale, northern Germany
Picture: A wolf in its enclosure in Thale, northern Germany
Getty Images / KLAUS-DIETMAR GABBERT / Contributor

A wild wolf has been spotted in Belgium, the first confirmed sighting in the country for more than a century.

The wolf, which was radio-collared, made its way into the country from Germany - an exciting sign for conservationists keeping tabs on the growing European wolf population.

Though wolves once roamed much of Europe, populations have dwindled after over-hunting, industrialisation and urbanisation.

Understandably, this also comes from humans being pretty scared of wolves, much of which originating from myths and folklore slandering the predatory species.

But in 1979, the Bern Convention decided that wolves are actually a protected species fundamental to "our natural European heritage".

Now, wolf populations are on the up, and the International Wolf Center estimate that there are now 13,000 in Europe.

But much of that old fear remains, culminating in Finland controversially culling 55 out of its 290 grey wolves between 2015 and 2016.

The Finnish government argue landowners might otherwise illegally poach the wolves, often to protect their livestock, while environmentalists are concerned about damaging wolf population numbers and genetic diversity.

Though a wolf may have also visited Belgium in 2011, this was never confirmed by DNA analysis.

Recently, people in the Netherlands spotted a wolf in a Dutch nature reserve.

More: These are the mammals we could say goodbye to in 2018

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