A male wolf may be settling in the north of the province of Drenthe but no mate has been located so far, local broadcaster RTV Drenthe reports.

The suspicion that the wolf may be settling in the province is based on figures from BIJ12, an organisation which monitors damage done by wild, protected animals.

The wolf’s presence had been noticed in November since when there was a rise in the number of sheep being killed. Tracks and DNA testing of the carcasses and droppings found at the scene have put some 17 attacks at the door of the lone, male wolf which is thought to have come from Brandenburg in Germany.

So far, the wolf is still considered a visitor but if its stay extends six months it will have chosen the area to settle in.

It is unusual for a single male to settle in an area, animal protection organisation Zoogdierenvereniging said, and the search for a perhaps as yet unidentified female is on.

‘We want the whole story so we are going to intensify the our search of the area to look for more tracks and install cameras,’ spokesman Glenn Lelieveld of Animal protection organisation Zoogdierenvereniging told the broadcaster.

With two areas in the Veluwe nature reserve, Drenthe is now the third place that wolves have made their home after a 150 year absence.

Their arrival has been controversial for environmental reasons but mostly because itinerant wolves are opportunistic sheep killers. Sheep farmers are compensated for lost sheep, however, and once settled wolves will live of nearby wildlife, experts say.

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