His wolves are trained in search of victims, a couple of Azureans in the sights of the prefecture

We pass through a massive gate to enter a vast property, and a white figure immediately slips behind an all-terrain vehicle. Furtive passage, like a ghost that escapes our sight.

Wolf are you there? It is indeed Tundra or Alaska, one of the two polar cubs that Daniel and Joëlle Hirsch “raise” at home. Within this vast fenced property of 3,200 meters in Mouans-Sartoux, it is difficult for us to approach them. The wild canids have sniffed us from afar, and are keeping their distance. Between man and beast, it is not necessarily the most frightened first. “Since the dawn of time, we have cried wolf, but it is not a monster and in reality, it is we who are feared”Daniel breathes.

A former dog handler in the army, then in a surveillance company, he is used to living with all kinds of species. Anubis, his Malinois shepherd, is also there to watch over his territory, despite the presence of his two new companions. But the superior abilities of the wolf have never ceased to fascinate Daniel who, with his association Avaloup, aims to socialize them and train them in the search for victims. “His intelligence, his flair, his physical resistance are superior, and in case of research, when the dogs have failed, he is really the animal of last chance.”

Montana, a sleuth

His first wolf, Indiana, Daniel got him from an animal trainer for the cinema in 1992. To keep him, like his wife Joëlle, he passed the necessary exam in order to be “capable”, and obtain the right to open an establishment accommodating a non-domestic wild animal. It was with the second, Utah, that the couple began to train the animal in research. But it is above all Montana, a wolf from Central Europe acquired at three weeks old in a wolf house in Le Castellet in 2010, that their wolf has become a sleuth.

“He made three judicial searches with the police and the gendarmerie, and found two bodies, a man shot in the head and a poor girl who had hanged herself. The third was a 75-year-old hiker who s had taken refuge in a cave, safe and sound, relates Daniel. If one of my wolves saves even one life, I figure it’s worth it!”

Alas, Montana has aged and at the time of retirement, it was necessary to think of replacing him. Last June, the gray wolf died, just before finding a successor in an animal park in Normandy.

Not without each other

“We had to pick up a baby, authorized, but since there was no more Montana, we were given a second one.”

These two have been growing and going together for weeks. Play with stuffed animals and eat chicken. Bathe in the fountain in the garden, each with their favorite deckchair by the pool. “In five months, the impregnation with the man is over, and we can start the research in 8 to 9 months. But we have to stop stressing them!, Daniel pleads. And if they are taken from us, even if they are given back to us afterwards, it’s screwed, we won’t be able to get anything out of them!”

Because it is indeed the threat which weighs today. The DDPP (Departmental Directorate of Animal Protection), under prefectural authority, is today contesting the couple’s right to keep these two wolves. (see box)

According to Daniel, it would be the programmed death of Tundra and Alaska. “Whoever is returned to a park will no longer be accepted by his pack who will kill him, while whoever remains, lonely, risks letting go.”

For him, it’s hard to imagine that in Mouans-Sartoux, the wolf will no longer be there…

“The inspectors winced on everything and anything!”

“For us, the wolf has never been a fashion phenomenon, a totem animal, a pretty glossy photo that we show off, and even less a pet. we have been strives to make this animal, with a sulphurous past, a useful research animal, says Joëlle Hirsch. Everything we want today; it’s to keep our two little wolves and make them grow in peace.”

And yet, this right once granted to them is now contested by the DDPP (Departmental Directorate of Animal Protection). In June, a first inspection visit had concluded that the places were not in conformity with the breeding of these two wolves.

“They winced at the fences, which they thought were not strong enough, at our 78 m2 enclosure, at the fact that they could climb a tree to escape, whereas in thirty years, we have never known escape, in short, on everything and anything, Daniel gets carried away. Nevertheless, we rectified everything, we consolidated the fences with concrete at the feet, we increased the electrification, and while we had obtained authorization for one more wolf with Montana, today, we are to choose between Alaska or Tundra!”

After a follow-up visit in August, “a letter issued by the DDPP on August 18 still notes breaches of the regulations and puts the Hirsch couple on notice, within fifteen days, “to keep one and only one wolf, encouraging natural behavioral expressions and avoiding human impregnation, securing the secondary fence and removing any installation likely to favor an escape”.”

A decision that is obviously disputed by those concerned. In addition to their administrative resistance via their lawyer, the Hirsch spouses launched a petition which, this Monday morning, approached 25,000 signatures.

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