Seven Canadian black wolves were missing after floods destroyed their enclosure in a French wildlife park, the French office for biodiversity (OFB) said. They warned on Tuesday the animals might starve to death if they’re not found soon.
The Alpha wildlife park, in the Mercantour national reserve north of the city of Nice, was left in rubble after floods hit southeast France, killing at least four people.
Two OFB agents and a veterinary surgeon searched the area by helicopter after sightings of some of the wolves were reported near the park.
The escaped wolves will not be able to survive on their own as they are used to being fed, OFB regional director Eric Hansen told AFP. “The priority is to find them, and capture them with the help of a dart gun,” Hansen said.
Canadian black wolves are a large subspecies of grey wolves, weighing around 80 kilograms.
The body of one of the park’s three polar wolves was found after their enclosure was swept away by the floods. The other two “are probably dead, too”, Hansen said. A third enclosure with three central European grey wolves was spared.
The Mercantour national reserve, created in 1979, has 78 species of mammals and more than 200 bird species.
It is also home to 50 Italian wolves, a protected species, which migrated there in the 1990s.