Decapitated wolf head left in public swimming pool in Spain amid row over sheep killings

Police in northern Spain launched an investigation after a dead wolf’s head and tail were left in a public swimming pool in a protest by farmers over attacks by wolves on their livestock.

The Guardia Civil’s wildlife protection unit is trying to find out who dumped the grisly remains at an open-air pool in the village of Infiesto, in the Picos de Europa mountain range of eastern Asturias.

The wolf is a protected species in Asturias, but angry protestors blocked country roads near the Picos de Europa National Park on Saturday, demanding more support as they fight to save their sheep, goats and calves from apparent wolf attacks.

To cries of “down with the National Park”, the leaders of the march read out a statement criticizing Asturian authorities who “publicise our area in order to attract people to visit our landscape and try our products, but who don’t care for the land or the people”.

Compensation schemes for dead livestock were insufficient and obsolete due to an increase in wolf attacks, protestors claimed, echoing farmers’ complaints in other areas of northwestern Spain, where the Iberian wolf roams.

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Vigilante wold killings are on the rise in the Picos de Europa mountain range of eastern AsturiasCredit:
robert harding/Alamy 

“Our animals don’t die; they get killed,” said livestock farmers Jessica López and Kaelia Cotera.

But Spanish environmentalists paint a different picture of the health of the country’s wolf population, arguing that it is struggling to remain stable due to authorized hunting and poaching.

“The species is suffering a regression towards the northwest due to brutal hunting that prevents it from extending towards its traditional territories in the south,” said Ángel Sánchez at the presentation of a report he co-authored earlier this year that counted the number of Spanish wolves killed in 2017 at between 500 and 650.

The total number of Iberian wolves in Spain is estimated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 grouped into around 300 packs.

Some regions north of the Duero issue a hunting quota on wolves each year, while south of the river, where few wolves roam, hunting is banned.

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