The people of Denmark have not seen a wolf prowling in its wild lands since the last of the species was killed by hunters in 1813, however, scientists have just confirmed sighting of the first wolf pack in the country after 200 years.
There have been sightings of male wolves in Denmark since 2012, but there had been no indication that a real pack had formed since there was no evidence of even a single female wolf found in the area — until now.
The Wolf Journey
Scientists ran DNA tests on feces samples collected in West Jutland and identified four male wolves and one female in the pack.
According to the researchers investigating the new arrivals, the wolf pack traveled all the way from Germany in search of new hunting grounds.
"We think these are young wolves rejected by their families who are looking for new hunting grounds," University of Aarhus scientist Peter Sunde said.
Some have speculated that unofficial rewilders deliberately released the pack of wolves in Denmark but Guillaume Chapron, a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, is convinced that the wolves' journey was natural.
Wolf Pair Could Mate
Among the pack, a pair of wolves were spotted traveling together in Autumn of 2016, leading the researchers to believe that it was only a matter of time before the pair mates. According to experts, wolves only pair up to breed so it is possible that Denmark could welcome its first cubs in late 2017 or in 2018.
However, it is still unsure whether the pair will mate in the spring of 2017 since they are still new in West Justland. Experts believe that the pair could postpone mating in favor of establishing their presence in the area first.
"If we observe two wolves together in May-June, they are most likely not mating as the female will stay with the cubs in or near the den while the male is foraging on his own," Sunde explained.
Details About The Wolf Pack Kept Secret
Not everyone is happy about the return of a once extinct predatory species in the region.
"As long as we don't disturb them, they will be fine in these human-dominated landscapes... But the question has to be asked, are people going to accept the wolves? The wolf will need to eat something. When they realise that Danish sheep don't taste too bad that may be a little problematic," Chapron said.
Farmers have already raised their concern over the return of wolves in the region, especially after several reported attacks on their sheep in early 2017. In fact, sheep farmers have already demanded government funding to build secure enclosures for their flocks.
In order to protect the wolves from hunters and angry farmers, the involved scientists have declined to reveal information with regard to the pack's exact location and the government supports this decision.
"The wolf is an animal we're not allowed to hunt so we must protect it," Danish Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Henrik Hagen Olesen said.