After a 150-year absence, wolves have resettled in the Netherlands. Currently there are two established wolf territories in the Veluwe area, the Netherlands. The presence of this apex predator completes the food web in this protected nature area. However, does the presence of wolves have a measurable impact on natural processes such as the nutrient cycle?
Research from other countries suggests that wolves prefer to feed on their own kills but that they generally do not consume all parts, often leaving the digestive organs e.g. the stomach and intestines.. These are however valuable food sources for other animals especially scavengers such as ravens and foxes. WUR and ARK Nature are working together to determine whether the wolves in the Veluwe provide carcasses for scavengers and which scavengers make use of these food sources.
It is also the question whether wolves scavenge, for instance on roadkills or animals that were culled for population management. Other research indicates that wolves do occasionally scavenge, for example after a failed hunt or when a wolf’s condition deteriorates. It remains unknown whether such carrion sources are part of the diet of the wolves in the Veluwe, but a recently initiated research project will shed more light on this question.
In the coming years it will become clear if and how the wolves in the Veluwe influence the nutrient cycle and other fundamental natural processes.