Hundreds of sheep have been taken to the foot of the Eiffel Tower in protest of increasing wolf attacks. Farmers say the government should be doing more to protect their livestock.
French farmers flocked with some 300 sheep to the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Thursday where they protested against increasing wolf attacks.
"We are asking that wolves be removed from sheep breeding regions because they are incompatible with our work," Michele Boudoin, secretary general of the French sheep organisation (FNO) said.
The most recent figures from August showed that this year, there had already been 4,800 wolf attacks, most of which were on sheep. The number of attacks has increased by 1,000 on last year's figures, with 8,000 attacks expected in total by the end of 2014.
"There is nothing natural about being eaten by wolves. We are against wolves from the moment they attack our farms," said Claude Font, head of a sheep farmers' organization from the central French region of Auvergne.
Under the French capital's most famous landmark, the woolly protesters looked anything but sheepish as they grazed and bleated in protest.
"Today farmers, tomorrow unemployed," read one banner, as one protester prowled the Champ de Mars dressed as a wolf whilst carrying a sheep.
Following the demonstration, protesters were due to meet Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll later on Thursday - with the sheep also expected to accompany them to the ministry.
After being hunted almost to extinction in France in the 1930s, wolves made a comeback in the 1990s. Today there are an estimated 300 across l'Hexagon.
Sheep farmers however, have grown increasingly enraged by their presence and claim the wolves are being "overprotected" by the government.
A cull of 24 wolves was ordered by the French government for 2014-15, but farmers want the right to shoot wolves immediately if their flock is attacked, and are calling for the quota of wolf killings to either be increased or have them removed altogether.
France's Environment Minister Segolene Royal stepped into the row in June, saying that attacks by wolves had become too frequent.
"The damage to herders has become too great," she said in a statement. The distress of the farmers and their families should be better taken into account," she said.
ksb/lw (Reuters, AFP)