Staff opening up the village swimming pool of Infiesto in Asturias on Sunday were shocked to find a wolf’s decapitated head and tail floating in the water.
The macabre discovery occurred the morning after 500 farmers and shepherds from the northern province’s Cabrales region had met to vent their anger against the increasing number of livestock killings perpetrated by wolves.
Infiesto, where the animal’s severed head was found, is a historical village of 2,000 residents who have livestock as their main source of income.
For centuries Infiesto’s inhabitants have had wolves as their neighbours, living in the principality’s Picos de Europa mountain range.
Photo: Alex Dunham
Half a dozen environmental groups have demanded that the Asturian Government act now against the perpetrators of this latest wolf murder and that “the long arm of the law fall on poachers who roam freely around Asturias killing wolves like this.”
According to a 2017 study dubbed For the coexistence of man and wolf , between 500 and 650 wolves were killed in Spain last year.
And the way in which the majority of wolf murders are carried out appears to be barbaric.
According to Spanish daily 20 Minutos, conservationists working in the area have found dead wolves poisoned and hanging from traffic signs, bridges or even in supermarkets, displayed as vindictive hunting trophies.
Nobody has been held accountable yet for the animal’s beheading on Sunday nor for any other wolf killings, leading activists to believe that poachers are “being spoiled by the Asturian Government”, even though “they only seek the extermination of the wolf species”.
The Iberian wolf is a subspecies of grey wolf that inhabits the forest and plains of northern Portugal and northwestern Spain.
Although the current wolf population is larger than in the seventies (when the Iberian wolf was on the brink of extinction), the species is still very much at risk.
“Iberian wolves find themselves in a very bad situation. Not only is the species not expanding throughout the Spanish territory, it’s also suffering a regression in the northwestern part of Spain due to brutal hunting practices,” wildlife biologist Ángel M. Sánchez told El País.
“In Castilla-León hunters pay more than €4,500 at a public auction to kill a wolf, with the false excuse by local authorities that it will prevent poaching or reduce livestock killings.”
According to Spain's Environment Ministry, there are 300 wolf packs roaming the northwest of the country.