Despite the fears of rural residents, the wolves that have migrated into Germany in the last decade only rarely kill livestock, a new study has found. Instead, nearly all of of the predator’s diet consists of wild animals, mainly deer and wild boar, say researchers who inspected more than 3,000 droppings.
For over 150 years, there were no wolves in Germany. They had been hunted to extinction and banished to the pages of fairy tale books, where they remained a firm part of the country’s forest folklore, making children shudder in the night.
In 2000, the beasts returned. A pair of wolves was spotted in the eastern state of Saxony after migrating from neighbouring Poland, and as the population slowly grew and spread westward, old fears resurfaced. Many a sheep farmer would have preferred to chase them back over the border.