Lutra 56(2)_Gravendeel, de Groot & Kik et al_2013

The first wolf found in the Netherlands in 150 years was the victim of a wildlife crime

On July 4th 2013 a dead subadult female wolf-like canid was found by the roadside between Luttelgeest and Marknesse in the Noordoostpolder in the central part of the Netherlands. As the last observations of wild wolves in the Netherlands date back to 1869 the discovery of this animal generated a lot of media attention. European wolf populations have been expanding since the 1950s and the first packs recently established themselves in Germany in geographic proximity of the Dutch border, so natural re-appearance of the species in the Netherlands seemed likely. We investigated the taxonomy of the animal, its geographical origin, and its most recent history. Macroscopic and biochemical analyses of the dead animal convincingly showed that it was a purebred wolf, related to populations from eastern Europe. Bullet impacts and shattered fragments found in the chest and flank, and a discrepancy between the timing of the post mortem and rigor mortis intervals indicated that this wolf was shot prior to illegal transport to the Netherlands. The wolf fed on beaver in either the Carpathian mountains or the Eifel which is too far for the animal to have walked from by itself within the 24 hours needed to digest its last meal. These geographical areas are the only regions where haplotypes and 87Sr/86Sr isotopes retrieved from both the dead wolf and the beaver remains in its stomach co-occur. We therefore conclude that the first Dutch wolf found in the Netherlands in 150 years did not enter the Netherlands by itself but sadly proved to be the victim of wildlife crime. Keywords: Canis lupus, Europe, haplotypes, isotopes, microsatellites, wildlife