Lutra 60(2)_La Haye & Verboom_Editorial_2017

Year of the serotine or year of the wolf?

The Dutch Mammal Society declared 2017 as the year of the serotine bat, and this was a justified choice as despite being common and widespread, little is generally known about this bat’s ecology. Looking back at 2017 there are reasons to also regard this year to have been the year of the wolf. After its extinction in the second half of the 19th Century, and after more than 150 years of absence from the Netherlands, the wolf is making a comeback, a return that the media has made much of. After gaining protected status at the 1982 Bern Convention, and after the disappearance of the Iron Wall in 1989, the European wolf population started to expand and, as experts predicted it was not the question if, but when, the wolf would recolonise the Netherlands. This has happened much earlier than expected, and it is safe to say that in 2017 wild wolves once again became part of the Dutch mammalian fauna and that (at least) one individual managed to live here for at least some weeks, before being hit by a taxibus.

As wolf populations in Germany started growing and expanding, it seemed a matter of time before young, dispersing wolves would cross the Netherlands’ border. The first sighting of a ‘wolf-like mammal’ was in August 2011, when a possible wolf was seen and photographed in Duiven near Arnhem, close to the German border....