Wolves menace Basque shepherds' flocks
Web posted at: 1:29 p.m. EST (1829 GMT)
From Correspondent Gary Strieker
VALLADOLID, Spain -- (CNN) Once hunted, trapped and poisoned until they disappeared from many regions scattered across the world, gray wolves are now making a comeback.
In the United States, wolves have been reintroduced to some protected areas, like Yellowstone National Park, where the populations are monitored.
But in parts of Europe, where wolf populations are also rejuvenating thanks to legal protections, the packs roam free of any national park barriers. Conservationists estimate Spain is home to Western Europe's largest wolf population -- some 2,000 animals -- and they are taking their meals where they find them.
In Spain's Basque Country, sheep flocks are often left unguarded to graze on the hills, making them prime prey for roaming wolves.
Shepherd Pedro Lopez told CNN he has several sheep in his flock that have festering injuries caused by wolf attacks. The wounds can be deadly.
Lopez says wolves and sheep are totally incompatible, and that the wolves in Basque must be eliminated.
Wolves in Castilla prefer wild game
But shepherds in nearby Castilla, an agricultural region surrounding the city of Valladolid, say the wolves don't bother their flocks. At least 50 wolves are said to roam in five packs in the area.
Unlike their counterparts in Basque, the Castillan shepherds never leave their flocks untended. They must stay vigilant to keep the flocks out of farmers' fields.
"Wolves are breeding just three kilometers (1.86 miles) from here, but they don't attack the sheep," one Castillan shepherd told CNN.
The wolves in Castilla are apparently able to survive on small game and meat discarded by farmers.
"The wolves can live here because they don't cause a lot of conflicts with livestock," the shepherd said.
But in Basque, and other parts of Spain, where the wolves are raiding sheep flocks, shepherds are demanding that the government eliminate the wolves.
Some shepherds say their flocks are attacked daily, and if the government doesn't act to eliminate the wolves, there are others who know how to deal with the predators.
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