A LONE wolf that is being monitored by researchers as she travels across Europe has killed two sheep and injured another in Belgium.

As a six-month-old cub, Naya the wolf was fitted with a collar incorporating a tracking device by researchers at the Technical University of Dresden.

In October last year the young female left her parents and her wolf pack in rural Lubtheener Heide, an area between Hamburg and Berlin in Germany, to set off on her European adventure.

Since then she has roamed across Germany, crossed into The Netherlands and made it into Belgium on January 3, 2018.

This is the first sighting of a wolf in Belgium for over 100 years, and it has put farmers in the north-east Flanders area on high alert looking out for her – as Naya has already killed two sheep and injured a third near the town of Meerhout.

“Any sheep farmers should know they are in range of this wolf,” said Hugh Jansman, a researcher from the Dutch Wageningen University and research centre, who has been following Naya’s journey.

Currently the young wolf has set up her den at a large military area near the town of Leopoldsburg, about 25kms from the Dutch border in Belgium. But farmers are aware that her Belgian incursion comes in the wake of last year's sightings of a wolf pack in Denmark.

Mr Jansman said: “We are at the front of the migratory wave of wolves. In 2000 the first wolf pack with cubs was in eastern Germany. Currently there are 74 cub packs with cubs in eastern Germany. In 2012, in Lower Saxony, closest to the Dutch border, there was only one settled female, but currently there are 14 packs of cubs.

“Agricultural areas are being abandoned by people so they are re-wilding again, leaving lots of space for carnivores," he explained. "The countryside is being abandoned by young people who are moving to the cities.

“This increase in wolf numbers and distribution area is going quite rapidly. So it is not a matter of if wolves are coming to the Netherlands, and probably Belgium, but how fast," he suggested. "We have seen in recent weeks how fast they can go."

According to her transmitter, Naya is travelling between 30kms and 70kms a night looking for a new place to call home.

“Some wolves just stay in their area, some others, about 20% go on a trek and walk hundreds of kilometres and settle down,” said Mr Jansman. “Naya is in the blue ocean, as there is so much free habitat for her. She passed through four or five natural parks in the Netherlands but she left them all after one or two days showing that she was looking for something else.

“This is the first place where she found a big military area. It could be the smell of humans is much less in a military area. It’s a prime reason to settle down," he speculated. “I followed the places where she stayed. We found leftover roe deer and hares, so she has been eating wild animals as well, as expected.

“And one thing we can tell is that she has totally avoided humans, and anything to do with humans,” he added.