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In the voice of Joëlle Hirsch, the emotion is still very strong.
Sadness, a little anger and above all a lot of incomprehension.
It has been almost two weeks since her
were snatched from her, as well as from her husband Daniel.
In truth, of chicks, it is not so.
And for good reason, it is indeed two young wolves in question.
Wild and reputedly dangerous animals whose couple, who live in Mouans-Sartoux, on the heights of Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes), have been striving for more than thirty years to prove that they can become man's best friend , like other canids.
“We are passionate about animals and the wolf in particular. After having each obtained a certificate of proficiency, we had our first wolf on May 15, 1992
“We are passionate about animals and the wolf in particular.
After having each obtained a certificate of proficiency, we had our first wolf on May 15, 1992
,” recalls Joëlle.
But the animal dies young, of a devastating heart attack.
The years pass and the couple decides to try the adventure again in 2010 by adopting Montana, a magnificent gray wolf.
The same year, Joëlle and Daniel create an association, "Avaloup", in order to involve Montana in the search for missing persons.
“He was trained in research right away and he was very good at it.
At the same time, a wolf has 1200 times more flair than a Malinois for example!
», assures Joëlle, not without an ounce of pride.
Montana, who died shortly before the adoption of the two cubs.
Joëlle Hirsch (personal collection)
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In fact, their association is quickly spotted by the authorities, who do not hesitate to call on Montana when, for their part, the search proves fruitless.
“We do not work at the same time as the gendarmes.
If the official searches yield nothing after a day or two, they can contact us.
In particular, we worked with the Cannes research brigade,
Unfortunately, there are more corpses than living people.
Nevertheless, we managed to find a person who had gotten lost during an outing and who had taken refuge, frozen with cold, in a cave.
A control at the origin of the judicial runaway
Over time, the desire to adopt a second companion is felt.
So far, Joëlle and Daniel have had no trouble socializing Montana, and in Mouans-Sartoux, this one is unanimous.
“The neighbors have never complained, nor anyone in the town.
We live and work in our little corner”
, abounds Joëlle.
A version confirmed by the mayor of the town with some 9,000 souls.
“I have known them for a long time and I can assure you that no one has ever had to complain about them, on the contrary.
They manage their wolf very well, they walk it on a leash on the small paths and to my knowledge, it has never fled from their garden"
, explains the city councilor, Pierre Aschieri, who describes an animal
"more fearful than aggressive.
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So, in September 2021, the couple applied for an extension of their certificate in order to be able to hold two wolves.
"We did it according to the rules, but after eight months, we still had no feedback
," recalls Joëlle.
In the meantime we had found a small wolf in a park in Normandy.
But wolf cubs are only born once a year between April and May.
We wanted Montana and a baby.
It's just a formality that we asked for.
Eventually Montana died some time before picking up the cub and the park told us another cub was born.”
On May 8, the couple hit the road, heading for Le Temple des Loups, near Dieppe.
Without difficulty, again, he picked up their two new companions, named Alaska and Toundra, and returned to the south of France.
It is relentlessness.
For years we have put our wolves at the service of humans and this is how we are thanked
But on June 13, Joëlle and Daniel receive a visit from the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP), which comes for a check.
"We weren't told anything except that the fence posts were five centimeters short of height.
This is nonsense, especially since we still have an electrified fence.
In any case, we made all the repairs.
An argument that does not convince the DDPP since on January 26, the couple is summoned to the gendarmerie brigade of Mouans-Sartoux.
Both are immediately taken into custody and heard separately for illegal possession of wild animals.
“The little ones
(Editor’s note cubs)
were in the car and my husband had to bring them back.
We were told: “either we sedate them or you give them to us”.
The first option was not possible because it was too risky.
It was heartbreaking to put our little chicks in boxes but we had no choice.
They left for a destination which, at present, remains unknown to us
, ”laments Joëlle, her voice trembling.
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After 13 hours of hearing, a search is carried out at the couple's home, chemin de la Foux.
14 gendarmes, including four dog handlers, took over the house.
“They did this on the grounds that we had airsoft guns on the walls
,” certifies Joëlle, who sees no other arguments for such a procedure.
For years, we have put our wolves at the service of humans and this is how we are thanked”
, she annoys.
Several breaches of the authorizations which governed the detention of the wolves by Mr. and Mrs. HIRSCH, sufficiently important for administrative and legal action to be taken and for a seizure and temporary placement of the wolves to be ordered by the courts
Prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes
, the Alpes-Maritimes prefecture returned to the control of the DDPP on June 13, pointing out
“several breaches of the authorizations which governed the detention of wolves by Mr. and Mrs. HIRSCH, sufficiently important for administrative and judicial consequences be given and that a seizure and the temporary placement of the wolves be ordered by justice.”
Demonstration and petition
In addition, the State service recalls that
“the keeping of wild animals, in captivity moreover, belonging to a protected species and classified as dangerous, is subject to various authorizations.
On the one hand, the person in charge of the establishment must hold a certificate of competence in order to ensure his technical skills and regulatory knowledge.
On the other hand, the host establishment must be subject to prior authorization accompanied by requirements aimed at guaranteeing in particular the well-being of the animals and the safety of persons and at ensuring the legality of the acquisition and possession animals.
In all cases, these authorizations are calibrated for a specific number of animals.
To this day, uncertainty remains about the future of the Cubs.
“We still wonder why all this excitement”
, supports Joëlle.
Faced with this situation, the town hall of Mouans-Sartoux organized a rally of support on January 28th.
“It was a reaction of pure compassion and sympathy towards them.
And then, either they have the right to have a wolf, or they don't have the right, but it must be said right away.
What's the point of making them wait like that in these conditions
, ”remarks Pierre Aschieri.
In addition, an online petition has been launched.
The latter has already collected nearly 34,000 signatures.
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