Washington OKs hunt to kill wolves attacking sheep

[Wolf killing is another by-product of lamb and wool.]


OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Hunters aboard a helicopter took aim at wolves that have been killing sheep in Stevens County in northeast Washington.

The Spokesman-Review reports state officials have OK’d the hunt for a portion of a wolf pack that’s killed at least 22 sheep this month.

The announcement comes after the state authorized a rancher to shoot the same wolves approaching his flock of 1,800 sheep.

But the state Fish and Wildlife Department says efforts to deter the pack have failed. So agency Director Phil Anderson says he authorized the killing of four wolves from the pack, which is estimated at up to 12 members.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, the newspaper reported that no wolves had been killed.

Conservation groups are opposed, saying killing wolves is not an effective way to protect livestock.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

WDFW adopts new tactics to stop wolves

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


August 20, 2014
Contact: Craig Bartlett, (360) 902-2259
WDFW adopts new tactics to stop wolves
from preying on flock of sheep
OLYMPIA – A rancher and state wildlife officials working to herd a flock of 1,800 sheep away from the site of recent wolf attacks in southern Stevens County today received authorization to shoot wolves that approach the flock.
Phil Anderson, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), today authorized livestock owner Dave Dashiell, of Hunters, and agency field staff to use limited lethal measures and preventative steps to avoid additional attacks on the flock.
Since Aug. 14, WDFW has confirmed that wolves killed 16 sheep in four separate incidents on leased forest land near Hunters, a small community about 48 miles northwest of Spokane. The latest attack occurred the night of Aug. 18.
Nine other sheep found prior to Aug. 14 had decomposed to the point where the cause of death could not be determined.
Signals from a radio collar attached to a male wolf in the Huckleberry Pack show the animal was at the site, likely with other pack members, when the attacks occurred, said Nate Pamplin, WDFW wildlife program director.
Necropsies of the carcasses confirmed the sheep were killed by wolves, he said.
“The rancher has four large guard dogs and camps alongside his flock at night,” Pamplin said. “Yet, the attacks have continued, even after the department sent four members of our wildlife-conflict staff and an experienced range-rider to help guard the sheep and begin moving them out of the area.”
To further protect his sheep, the livestock owner has removed the carcasses of dead animals where possible to do so and kept his flock on the move around the grazing areas, Pamplin said.
“Dave Dashiell has worked closely with WDFW field staff to find solutions to this situation,” Pamplin said. “We really appreciate his efforts and his cooperation in working toward a shared goal.”
To support those efforts, Anderson directed WDFW wildlife staff to:
  • Help the livestock owner find an alternative grazing area away from the Huckleberry Pack.
  • Capture and collar additional wolves in the pack to provide additional information on their movements.
  • Be prepared to shoot wolves in the vicinity of the livestock owner’s sheep. Neither WDFW staff, nor the livestock owner, who was also authorized to shoot wolves in the vicinity, will actively hunt the wolves or attempt to draw them into range.
“Observing a wolf in the wild is a fairly rare thing,” Pamplin said. “Given the escalating pattern of attacks on this flock of sheep, it’s safe to assume in this situation that any wolves in the vicinity of that flock pose a direct risk to those animals.”
In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species in the eastern third of the state, but the species is still protected under Washington state law. The state Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and state laws set the parameters for responding to wolf predation on livestock.
“Our preferred option is to help the livestock owner move the sheep to another area, but finding a place to graze 1,800 animals presents a challenge,” Pamplin said. “We’ll continue to do everything we can to avoid further conflict.”
The Huckleberry Pack, confirmed as the state’s seventh wolf pack in June 2012, is known to have at least six members and perhaps as many as a dozen. There is no documented evidence that the pack, named after nearby Huckleberry Mountain, has preyed on livestock until now.

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“Get To Hoofin It”: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

“Get To Hoofin It”: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States


By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns

Probably everyone reading this knows the feeling of going to the computer each day, clicking on email, and experiencing that knot of dread as the messages unfold with their sad and terrible stories about animals, the horrible and endlessly ingenious ways and reasons that our species has for making animals suffer and die, which includes stripping them of their dignity.

If it’s bad enough knowing what the institutions and entities that we expect to hurt animals are doing to them, there is added despair involved in knowing what is being done to animals by organizations calling themselves “humane,” “anticruelty” and the like. It is monstrous seeing our language of care and respect degraded into completely opposite meanings. A perfect example is this:

Get to Hoofin it: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

“We support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, and act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures.”
– The Humane Society of the United States

Most people know enough by now about the realities of animal farming, regardless of scale or label, to envision at least some of the details of what farmers and ranchers actually do to animals, versus verbalizations about “proper care” and “basic ethic of compassion.”

What these abstractions express and perpetuate in this context is alienation from actual animals. What they demonstrate is lack of respect for animals, indeed mockery of the very idea of “respecting” them. No one who truly respects animals, respects their dignity, feels with and for them, and wishes them joy in life supports “farming” them, because animal farming is about degrading animals meanly to the level of their genitals and their genes, mutilating their body parts, destroying their family life, controlling every aspect of their lives including culling (killing) them as one pleases when they are deemed not “productive” enough to keep feeding, and ultimately murdering them.

How can anyone claiming to respect animals promote a view of them as “dinner”?

Will a call to “Respect Your Dinner” advance your empathy and respect for animals as they lie slaughtered on your plate in barbecue sauce? Maybe the code word here is “basic.” Basic ethic of compassion = lowest possible level. In any case, compassion has nothing to do with the business and consumption of animal products. Its purpose is to gain customers and subvert consciences, to the extent that a conscience exists toward animals made into meals and blessed over in this condition even by their, uh, advocates. Like “humane,” the word compassion in this context is a mockery of both the animals and the meaning of words, including the word advocacy. It is the final gut punch to those we’re supposed to be advocating for.

Click on each animal photograph in this link for more information:

For more commentary, see pattrice jones here:

Peaceful Prairie here:

James McWilliams here:

Hen being slaughtered Basic ethic of compassion in action.

Grizzly bear killed in Idaho livestock incident


LAURA LUNDQUIST, Chronicle Staff Writer The Bozeman Daily Chronicle | 2 Comments

Wardens killed a male grizzly bear Sunday in another livestock-related incident along Montana’s southwestern border.

Workers had reported the death of cattle on a ranch that is part of Idaho’s Harriman State Park west of Island Park Reservoir and Yellowstone National Park and just south of the Montana border.

The ranch is also around 30 miles from the U.S. Experimental Sheep Station Range Reserve and summer grazing pastures in the Centennial Mountains, where other grizzly bears have been killed for preying on sheep.

Idaho Fish & Game spokesman Gregg Losinski, who also works with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, said the cattle depredations had been ongoing, and it appeared that a bear was responsible.

So IFG contacted U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services employees who snared and killed the bear, which turned out to be a male approximately 9 years old.

Losinski said the bear was eliminated because it had learned to prey preferentially on livestock.

This is the fourth grizzly bear that Wildlife Services has killed this year because of cattle depredation. Two others were killed in Wyoming, and one was killed in May near Tom Miner Creek north of Gardiner, according to data gathered by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

Ten grizzly bear deaths have been recorded this year, with three being natural and four human-caused that are under investigation.

But that’s fewer deaths by this time of year than in 2013. By August of that year, 14 bears had died, eight of which were killed for preying on livestock.

“We’re happy that fewer bears have been killed due to depredation this year,” Losinski said. “Now we’re getting ready for hunting season, which is another time when bears are killed because of run-ins with hunters.”

In 2013, hunters were responsible for four of the 29 total grizzly bear deaths.

Grizzly bears are still protected by the Endangered Species Act and killing one without authorization is illegal.

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Fire-related cattle deaths could approach 300 head

July 29, 2014

WENATCHEE — Crews Friday began burying many of the approximately 300 head of cattle that died in the Carlton Complex fires.

Local health officials say they need the public’s help to find other cattle carcasses. Ranchers or the public can report carcasses by calling 422-7140.


45 cows killed by single lightning strike near Darby


DARBY – A single lightning bolt killed 45 cattle on a Darby-area ranch last week.

The cows, calves and a prize bull were crowded together under some small crabapple trees when the lightning struck, said rancher Jean Taylor.

The incident happened Monday, July 14.

“It was exactly at 10:28 p.m.,” Taylor said. “The clap of thunder woke me up. Some friends told me they felt the shock in their house.”

The Taylors live south of Tin Cup Road.

The family had spent years building their herd of Black Angus cattle.

“They were beautiful cattle,” she said. “It killed cows and their calves and a bull that we had just bought last spring. It’s very sad.”

Local ranchers helped the family dispose of the dead animals.

No one had ever heard of so many cattle being killed by lightning l”





Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Puts Contract Renewal With Wildlife Services on Hold

EUREKA, Calif.— One day after a broad coalition of national animal and conservation groups urged the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to terminate its contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the board assented to a citizen request to delay consideration of contract renewal for at least a month in order to reevaluate the issues.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the board had scheduled a vote on the county’s annual renewal of its contract with Wildlife Services, a federal program that kills tens of thousands of native wild animals in California every year. But on a citizens’ request submitted by local wildlife rehabilitator Monte Merrick, the board decided to remove the renewal item from its consent calendar, delaying it at least another month as the county considers the issues raised by Merrick and the coalition.

Photo Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity
Dog caught in trap (Click on image to enlarge) – Photo Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity

“I am elated that the board has agreed to consider whether to renew its contract with Wildlife Services,” said Merrick. “Wildlife Services is increasingly controversial and there are better options to address wildlife conflicts.”

The coalition groups sent a formal letter asking the county to undertake an environmental review and ensure proper protections — as required under California state law — prior to hiring Wildlife Services to kill any additional wildlife. Last year, in response to a similar letter from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors opted not to renew the county’s contract with Wildlife Services and is now conducting a review of its wildlife policies. Marin County cancelled its contract with Wildlife Services 14 years ago and implemented a nonlethal predator-control program. As a result the county has seen a 62 percent decrease in livestock predation at one-third of the former cost.

Since 2000 Wildlife Services has spent a billion taxpayer dollars to kill a million coyotes and other predators across the nation. The excessive killing continues unchecked despite extensive peer-reviewed science showing that reckless destruction of native predators leads to broad ecological devastation. The indiscriminate methods used by Wildlife Services have killed more than 50,000 “nontarget” animals in the past decade, including endangered condors and bald eagles. The program recently released data showing that it killed over 4 million animals during fiscal year 2013 using a variety of methods, including steel-jaw leghold and body-crushing traps and wire snares. These devices maim and trap animals, who then may take several days to die. In 1998 California voters banned several of these methods, including leghold traps.

Trap - Az Russell files, COurtesy Center for Biological Diversity
Trap (Click to enlarge) – Az Russell files, Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity

“Humboldt County has a chance to be a leader in California wildlife management by eliminating their contract with Wildlife Services,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Nonlethal predator control has proven to be more humane, more cost-efficient, and more effective — it’s simply the right thing to do for the county.”

“We are glad to see that Humboldt County is pushing the ‘pause’ button on its relationship with Wildlife Services,” said Tim Ream of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope that the county will do the wise thing and terminate its relationship with Wildlife Services altogether.”

“Humboldt County has an opportunity to do what’s right here by reviewing their contract with Wildlife Services and shifting towards a nonlethal program that is ecologically, economically and ethically justifiable,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote founder and executive director, who helped develop Marin’s nonlethal program. “We pledge our assistance to the county toward this end and urge the Board of Supervisors to emulate the successful Marin County Livestock and Wildlife Protection Program that provides non-lethal assistance to ranchers.”

“The last thing the county that is home to such special places as the Lost Coast and Redwood National Park should be doing is allowing Wildlife Services to trap and kill its native wildlife,” said Elly Pepper, an NRDC wildlife advocate. “Using nonlethal methods to balance its incomparable natural beauty with its critters is a much better use of county residents’ money.”

“It is time to put aside the unchecked assumption that wildlife conflicts can only be solved via Wildlife Services’ draconian, outdated killing methods,” said Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney at the Animal Welfare Institute. “We salute Humboldt County for stepping back to reevaluate its options — a move that will hopefully lead to more humane, less costly and more effective methods of wildlife management.”


I’d Love to Change the World

I’ve been told that I’m not helping anything by being vegan; that I wasn’t going to be able to stop all the horrible things going on by taking a stand against animal consumption.

10151358_495324630593354_7512005859880238928_nThat’s a depressing thought, especially if you’re aware of the current holocaust happening all around us. Humans are slaughtering 6 million animals per hour. 20,000 more will die in the time it takes you to read these sentences! That’s a holocaust of farmed animals every 60 minutes. And that’s not counting fish, lobsters, shrimp, oysters, clams, krill or other sea life. But I’m not fooling myself, I know it would take a concerted, allied effort to stop these atrocities.

Even if I never saw positive results from promoting veganism in my short lifetime, there are other reasons for not eating animals. For me, veganism is about choosing not to add to the suffering our fellow Earthlings endure every day for the human appetite; it’s a form of dissent against the extreme cruelty millions of animals undergo so humans can have their steak and eat it too.

Veganism is my protest against the insanity of factory farming; against the existence of battery cages, cattle feedlots, industrialized dairies, veal crates, hog farming, commercial fishing, whaling, sealing, fur trapping, bow hunting, predator control, contest hunts, culling, derby killing and every other form of exploitation our species inflicts on the non-humans citizens of the world.

I might not be able to change the world, but at least I don’t have to be complicit in institutionalized animal cruelty. Non-human animals might hold little value to most people, but the laissez-faire acceptance of brutality and suffering will eventually come back on Homo sapiens and help facilitate the demise of the species.

In the immortal words of Woodstock headliners, Ten Years After:

“I’d love to change the world

But I don’t know what to do

So I’ll leave it up to you”


Gassy Cows Are Warming The Planet, And They’re Here To Stay


April 12, 2014 5:06 AM ET

Correction April 12, 2014

An earlier version of this story said that the methane emissions associated with livestock come from their farts. In fact, most of those methane emissions come from belches.


These guys are gassy, and their emissions are contributing to global warming.

These guys are gassy, and their emissions are contributing to global warming.

Sorry to ruin your appetite, but it’s time to talk about cow belches.

Humans the world over are eating meat and drinking milk — some of us a little less, some of us a lot more, than years past. Farmers are bringing more and more cows into the world to meet demand, and with them escapes more methane into the atmosphere.

In 2011, methane from livestock accounted for 39 percent of all the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, according to a report that United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization released Friday. That’s more than synthetic fertilizer or deforestation. Methane from livestock rose 11 percent between 2001 and 2011.

The bulk of the emissions — 55 percent — came from beef cattle. Dairy cows, buffalo, sheep and goats accounted for the rest.

Those emissions, combined with emissions from all the other sectors of food production, aren’t likely to go down anytime soon. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry and fishing have doubled over the past 50 years, according to the report. Emissions could go up by 30 percent by 2050.

All this talk about cow belches might make you want to give up meat. So should we all become vegetarians? Asking everyone to reduce their meat consumption isn’t a very practical strategy, says Francesco Tubiello, a natural resources officer for the FAO.

The demand for meat is rising most quickly in developing countries. And since the diets of many in the developing world are short on protein and calories, the poorest of them could really benefit from more meat production. Plus, “for many developing countries, agriculture is their main economic sector,” Tubiello tells The Salt.

Global meat consumption is likely to keep going up over the next 30 years, Tubiello says. (Though, as many have argued, it does make sense for the affluent people of the world who currently over-consume meat to cut back.) But the FAO says the best way to reduce agriculture’s contribution to global warming is to tackle other sources of emissions.

For example, we could improve how efficiently we use agricultural land. “There are many ways to improve the productivity of land,” Tubiello says, like increasing crop yields. That means we need to find more ways to use less land to make the same amount of food.

Encouraging farmers to use fertilizers more judiciously would also help. When farmers spray their fields with nitrogen fertilizer, microbes in the soil convert it to nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas. “A lot of the fertilizer is not used efficiently,” Tubiello says.

The FAO report found that fertilizers accounted 14 percent of agricultural emissions in 2011. And the amount emissions from fertilizers has risen 37 percent since 2001.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that raising livestock takes a huge toll on the environment. But, Tubiello says, there are ways to mitigate the environmental impact of raising livestock without doing away with meat altogether.

For example, we could also try to switch up what we feed cows. Having cows graze on grass isn’t a very efficient use of land, as the grass makes for smaller animals, who end up emitting more greenhouse gases per pound of meat produced, than animals raised on grain.

However, corn and soy that most cows eat makes them especially gassy, so feeding them alfalfa and supplements could reduce how much they belch. More research on how to optimize what we feed livestock could help farmers reduce emissions.

But even if we can’t control how much cows belch, we can control what we do with their poop. When nitrogen in livestock manure and urine is also broken down into nitrous oxide — and emissions from manure accounted for 16 percent of agricultural emissions in 2011, according to the FAO. Managing all that manure — or even reusing it as fuel, is one way to reduce emissions.

The wolf hunt returns to France as species makes a European comeback


Conservation groups furious as government allows limited hunting of protected grey wolf amid rise in attacks on farm animals

Henry Samuel and Lewis Whyld 22 Mar 2014copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

As day broke, around 50 French hunters, wolf lieutenants and local farmers stood motionless, rifles in hand, gazing silently into the forest of Caussols in the Alpine foothills of Provence.

A few miles upwind, dozens of beaters in fluorescent orange and yellow tops began their arduous march though deep snow over steep, wooded terrain, making strident calls and firing shots into the air as they went.

Sandwiched between the two lines, the hunters hoped, were anything up to three packs of wolves that local sheep farmers say are ruining their age-old pastoral existence with incessant attacks on their flocks. Camera traps caught images of them only 48 hours previously. The clamour of the beaters was designed to flush them of the woods and into the line of the hunters’ fire.

But the danger was not just for the wolves. “The trackers will be behind the animals. Be sure to shoot downwards,” Louis Bernard, regional head of the hunting and wildlife commission, ONCFS, told the party beforehand.

“We’ve already had one fatal accident in the area this year, so please be careful. Only shoot when you have identified the animal.”

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Situated in the pre-Alps just 25 miles inland from Nice and 15 miles from Grasse, France’s perfume capital, the wild, rugged landscape of Caussols could not be further removed from the glitz of the Riviera.

In January alone, farmers in these hills lost around 100 sheep to the grey wolf, which is making a lightning comeback in France and other parts of Europe; in Spain, packs are breeding a mere 40 miles from Madrid.

For Ludovic Bruno, 20, whose 350 sheep graze here in the winter months before he takes six days to walk them to higher summer pastures, respecting the age-old practice of “transhumance”, the hunt was personal.

“Over there just behind that hill on January 5, four wolves attacked my flock and there was nothing I could do about it. I had no gun on me,” said the young farmer who suffered eight attacks last year killing scores of animals and has lost 18 in the past month.

“I saw one running off with one of my lambs in its jaws. Two more sheep lay dead. I felt only rage. The wolf is a threat to my way of life and my future.”

Miraculously, he managed to save his black billy goat, which the wolves had pinned to a rock by its throat. The wound was still raw.

“Look,” he suddenly said, pointing to tracks in the thick snow ahead. “Paw prints. This is a wolf. He must be quite big. A male of around 30 kilogrammes. But these are several days old, made in fresh snow that has frozen over now.”

With official encouragement, herders and farmers hunted wolves to extinction in France in the 1930s but in 1992, an alpha mating pair crossed the border from Italy.

Since then, Canis lupus has spread throughout the French Alps, across the Rhône valley into the Massif Central and up the eastern border of France to the Jura and Vosges mountains.

It recently reached the sparsely populated plains of eastern France, and last month the corpse of an illegally shot wolf was found in Coole in the Marne, just 100 miles east of Paris.

Today, there are at least 300 individuals in up to 25 packs across the country. As their number and reach increase, so do attacks, resulting in the death of more than 6,000 sheep last year – double the number five years ago. More than a third occurred in the Alpes-Maritimes département where the hunt took place.

The wolf is a protected species under the Berne convention and European law. It can no longer be hunted or poisoned. Yet culls can exceptionally take place when all other attempts at protecting local livestock have failed. Under a government wolf plan, some 24 individuals can be “removed” – the official term – in this way per year.

Initially this was a job only for state marksmen, but given their lack of success – only seven were killed last year – the government widened the remit to “wolf lieutenants”. Now, wolves can be shot in ordinary hunts in areas where they pose problems.

Conservation groups are furious. “To return to wolf hunts as if we were in the Middle Ages is scandalous. That the local authorities are organising them is even worse,” said Jean-François Darmstaedter, president of Ferus, who threatened to challenge their legality in the European courts.

“We call them ‘political killings’ as their only aim is to allow farmers to let off steam but they will solve nothing. Blindly shooting wolves will have no effect other than to exacerbate the problem. If you kill the alpha male, you can split up a pack, which will cause far more damage.”

The only solution, he said, was to protect flocks properly by using fierce Pyrenean “patou” mountain dogs, penning sheep inside high electrified fences at night and firing warning shots if wolves approach. “These measures can reduce predation to almost nil,” he insisted.

But Pierre and Deborah Courron, who own 900 sheep and goats near Caussols, have tried all this and despite their best efforts – including sleeping beside flocks in the summer months – lost 60 animals last year and have suffered eight attacks in 2014.

Mrs Courron scoffed at the suggestion they were not doing enough to protect their sheep.

“We already have four patous. If I had 15 of them, we would doubtless have no wolf attacks, but a pack that big would pose a threat to humans as they are semi-wild. They would make mincemeat of hikers.”

As for electrified enclosures, they help, but the wolves are deft at spooking the sheep so much they knock down fences in panic. The wolves are now so bold they sometimes attack yards from the farm. Techniques such as linking a sheep’s heart rate to an alarm have proved ineffective.

While farmers are compensated for the loss of animals they can prove were eaten by wolves and receive a “stress bonus” to cover potential miscarriages, the psychological strain is permanent.

“In 2013, we lost almost 2,500 sheep in 719 attacks,” said Jean-Philippe Frère, vice president of the chamber of agriculture for the Alpes-Maritimes.

“You can imagine the distress this causes farmers. To live 24 hours a day with the strain of thinking the wolf is going to eat my sheep is unbearable.”

Jean-Marc Moriceau, a historian who has studied the relationship between man and wolf over the ages, said that it was a “lie to simply say if you add more means, there will be no more problem”.

“As a historian I can tell you there has never been perfect cohabitation between man and wolf. It has always been imposed and under constraint,” he said.

In April, Mr Moriceau is launching a website documenting the 8,000 humans killed by wolves between the 17th and 20th centuries, many of them children between six and 15 sent to guard flocks.

“There is a kind of law of silence about this because it is seen as not politically correct to describe what is a historical reality. It was a tiny minority, but it is the reason for our ancestral fear of the wolf.”

Today public opinion is very much on the wolf’s side. A recent poll, commissioned by a pro-wolf group, found that 80 per cent of French people wanted wolves to be protected from farmers, rather than sheep from wolves. But Mr Moriceau said that could change as the wolf approaches built-up areas.

“The wolf is an indicator of all humanity’s weaknesses throughout the ages, including today. It will exploit any drop in the strength and domination of man on his environment,” he said. “The closer the wolf physically gets to people, the less they are in favour of its presence.”

With little to stop the wolf spreading all round France, some are calling for certain areas to be declared “wolf-free zones”.

“The wolf is gaining ground. If we left nature run its course, then certainly we will see them soon in the forests around Paris,” said Jean-Pierre Poly, national head of France’s wildlife and hunting commission, whose delicate mission is to protect the wolf, compensate farmers and organise culls.

“Some think that we should hem the wolf in to certain areas and organise a sort of defence zone to make sure it doesn’t get too close to built up areas. The jury is out,” he said.

Wolves undoubtedly prowl these woods, but they are remarkably elusive and can smell a man more than a mile off. At one stage, Mr Courron paused to point out fresh tracks in a clearing.

“Look at the pads, all in a line. When they follow each other, they step in each other’s paw prints. It looks like one, but could be several,” he said, pushing another cartridge into his rifle and firing into the blue sky.

“These are probably from yesterday.”

Despite what are, for the hunters, these encouraging signs, after an exhausting three-hour march the packs local farmers say are causing them such trouble were still nowhere in sight.

And help was at hand for the wolves: just as the trackers entered the final furlong, at last approaching the stationary marksmen’s line of fire, the hunt was abruptly cut short by furious ramblers demanding to know why their Sunday stroll had suddenly taken them into a war zone.

As tempers flared and the guns fell silent, the farmers railed against “tourists” whose right to roam had foiled their hunt. “All these people mobilised against the wolf, yet we get stopped by a bunch of walkers. It beggars belief,” said Mr Courron.

In truth, however, this is the third such hunt in the area in which the wolf has evaded his ancient foe. Last time, a marksman even missed one that dashed for cover right past his sights.

“Today is Sunday. If we had done the hunt on Friday we would probably have come across wolves,” said Mr Bernard. “But as they roam over a large territory of around 30,000 hectares (110 square miles) per pack, they constantly move around and today were not on the Caussols plain.”

Gripping his gun and clenching his jaw, Mr Courron stared dejectedly into the middle distance. “Better luck next time,” he murmured. “Even if we just get one or two, we will be a little less troubled.”

• Wolf hunt returns to France: 360 degree view