Attacks on flocks of sheep in Yonne: for breeders, “the situation has become uncontrollable”

“Like my sheep, I’m really starting to have it in my throat.” A joke to hide a deep anger. And a certain helplessness. On the morning of Sunday August 7, 2022, Nicolas Carbognani, a young breeder in the process of settling in Noyers-sur-Serein, found one of his sheep dead in a meadow. The animal was largely eaten at the neck. Near the body, a piece of broken bone testifies to the power of the attack.

Eight lost sheep

This is the eighth ewe lost by the breeder in fifty days, current series. “The first time, I had not called the French office for biodiversity (OFB) because I did not know the protocol; the second time, they dismissed the responsibility for the wolf [en raison de “la mâchoire de faible puissance” de l’agresseur, ndlr] and the third, my dog ​​chased the wolf, which was caught on camera by the trap, but I lost two sheep, which I never saw again,” he said.

premium The Yonne prefecture confirms two wolf attacks in the department since the beginning of the year

And to add: “The vet said it was a large canine, probably the wolf, during the second attack. And the photo [ci-dessous]the OFB does not want to be interested in it, as there was no predation that day.

The shot taken by the photo trap of Nicolas Carbognani breeder in Noyers-sur-Serein, July 16, 2022.

Repeated attacks despite the installation of electrified fences and the presence of a herding dog, as required by the State services, sine qua non conditions for being compensated, in the event of predation by the wolf. “It’s starting to make a big hole in the cash,” he rages.

“Terrorized” sheep

Sunday morning, the breeder reacted well by protecting the scene from the attack and immediately calling the OFB: “We make the findings, we note the clues and we send everything to Dijon”, says one of the agents. . For details, concerning the readings of indices, the second boot in touch. “I’m sorry, we can’t talk to you,” he says, under the gaze of a motionless sheep near a water barrel. “She is terrified, she has not moved all morning,” laments Nicolas Carbognani.

His friend Frédéric Fernandes, at the head of a herd of 500 ewes in Vault-de-Lugny, came to support him. “I know what it is [que de perdre une bête]” he sighs. He too suffered attacks at the beginning of June. “In the morning, I found a first dead sheep, then 200 meters further on a second, then three, then four, with quite a piece of lamb taken.” In the evening, yet another. “It had been devoured. It was spectacular, I had never seen that. His throat had been torn out, the contents of the belly had been brought to the edge of the stream. Basically, only the head was left…”. A real carnage.

The agents of the OFB take samples in order to determine which animal attacked the herd.

“Now the situation is out of control”

After the passage of agents from the French Office for Biodiversity, the responsibility of the wolf is however excluded. The breeder cannot therefore be compensated. “On paper, he has to crush the trachea of ​​the sheep… But not necessarily: if she has a big wool there, he will bite elsewhere. The officers tick boxes, but it seems that it is always exculpatory for the wolf,” said Frédéric Fernandes.

Is the wolf at the origin of new attacks on sheep in Yonne?

“Now the situation is out of control,” grumbles Fabrice Trottier, breeder member of the Rural Coordination. “The authorities want to make the department witness to the cohabitation with the wolf. They always want to minimize the attacks. But we have them. Fed up !” “I went back to school at 35 to be able to make a living from this passion job. And today, it’s become a nightmare”, abounds Frédéric Fernandes. “We spend a lot of time doing paperwork, taking care of herding dogs, installing fences, but I don’t do this job for that, me!”, He continues.

At night, we sleep very badly. And in the morning, I go around the meadows with a lump in my stomach.

Predation pressure also affects morale. “At night, we sleep very badly. We get up three or four times. And in the morning, I go around the meadows with a ball in my stomach”, admits Nicolas Carbognani. “I’m tired of having breeders crying on the phone or who don’t know what to do when they discover their dead animals”, laments Fabrice Trottier.

Request for sampling shots

At the end, the breeders ask for the possibility of being able to shoot the large canine, to protect their herd. “I have a derogation which authorizes me to carry out a simple defensive shot”, indicates Laurence Godin, breeder in Mélisey, first affected by the wolf in 2018. In other words, thanks to her hunting license, she can shoot the wolf, if he has entered his park or if he is preying on his beasts. “We are asking for authorization to shoot strict samples, period”, summarizes Fabrice Trottier.

The association for the defense of large predators Ferus recommends reinforcing the means of protection, such as dogs, herdsmen.

“The wolf is a protected species and we already count 20% of samples per year. If we tend towards 50%, it will have trouble surviving”, warns Sandrine Andrieux, coordination officer at the Ferus association, which works for the protection of large predators.

Killing a wolf is useless and can even be counterproductive.

sandrine andrieux (Coordinator at the Ferus association)

“We can understand the anger of the breeders, but killing a wolf is useless and it can even be counterproductive: if you shoot, you destroy the pack and an isolated wolf will more easily attack a domestic herd” , continues this representative of the animal cause.

Nearly 70 potential attacks in four and a half years

In France, at the end of winter 2021-2022, there were 826 to 1,016 wolves, according to the French Office for Biodiversity. There were 783 a year earlier. Since the beginning of the year, 48 gray wolves have been killed on national territory. The state authorizes 174 direct debits per year.

In the Yonne, the canis lupus has been back since 2018. And a series of attacks in Tonnerrois, with more than thirty sheep killed. According to the services of the Prefecture of Yonne, 98 attacks have been recorded in four years in the department, including 69 for which the wolf is “not ruled out”. A way of saying, with tweezers, that he is most likely the author of said attacks. “But if it’s not the wolf, tell us what it is?”, annoys Fabrice Trottier. “Attacks on herds by wandering dogs are unfortunately common,” says the prefecture. “There are certainly stray dogs. But these are large dogs, of the German Shepherd, Labrador or Husky type, which run away and return home in the morning”, estimates Olivier Lecas, president of the hunting federation in Yonne. .

Since the beginning of 2022, only two attacks have been attributable to the large canine: in Saint-Brancher on February 20 and in Noyers on July 8. To which could be added the attack on Sunday August 7, in Noyers-sur-Serein.

Thomas Ribierre
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