farmers cry wolf over sheep killings
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[December 01, 2014]
PARIS (Reuters) - French farmers,
who regularly bring livestock into Paris to punctuate their protests,
drove some 250 sheep into the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on Thursday to
highlight an unusual concern - that a growing wolf population is killing
Wolves were reintroduced to France in the 1990s under an
international convention on wildlife conservation in Europe.
There are now an estimated 300 wolves in the country and the number
is growing each year. According to the French sheep organization
(FNO), the number of animals they kill has risen too - by nearly two
thirds since 2011 - and is likely to top 8,000 this year.
"We are asking that wolves be removed from sheep breeding regions
because they are incompatible with our work," Michele Boudoin,
secretary general of the French sheep organisation (FNO) said.
She stressed that France's "wolf plan", which compensates farmers
for sheep losses and pays for prevention measures and staff, cost
the government nearly 15 million euros ($19 million) in 2012.
"We don't want the money, we want to do our job in good conditions,"
she said as a flock of brown "Noires de Velay" sheep arrived at the
Luc Bourgeois, a young shepherd from southeastern France, said he
lost 150 of his 3,000 sheep this year. Ten were killed directly, he
said, while the rest jumped in a ravine as they fled.
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The farmers want the right to shoot wolves immediately if their
flock is attacked, and are calling for a quota of wolf killings,
currently set at 24 annually, to be increased or removed altogether.
Members of the FNO and the wider farm union FNSEA were due to meet
Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll and the head of the
environment minister's chief of staff later in the day.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Andrew Callus)
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