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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
French shepherd 'mauled by wolves'
Shepherd Aime Segur
Aime Segur says he was attacked by a she-wolf
A French shepherd has been mauled in what he says was an attack by wolves on a remote Alpine mountainside.

The attack took place on the edge of the Mercantour National Park, in southeast France, to which wolves have returned in recent years.

It was the wolf and because I shouted - I was dead scared - my two Alsatians came to my rescue

Aime Segur

Aime Segur, 56, says he was attacked by a she-wolf and its two young as he went to collect his flock from pastures 2000m above sea level, near the village of Isola.

He added that he only managed to flee the attack when he called his own dogs which frightened the wolves away, France 2 television reported.

Dogs to the rescue

"It was between 4.30 and 5pm. I was going up. I stopped and something jumped on me. It was the wolf and because I shouted - I was dead scared - my two Alsatians came to my rescue and I escaped as best I could," he said.

Dr Jean-Marc Chavanier
Not just a tall story, the local doctor says

Although attacks on sheep are common, the wolves have not been known to attack humans in the area before.

But Jean-Marc Chavanier, a doctor and friend of Mr Segur, said: "I know him very well. I know he's not someone who tells tales.

"What surprises me as well is that a wolf should attack, but you have to accept things as they are."

The wolves - a protected species - are believed to have re-established themselves in the park after crossing the border from Italy around six years ago.

There are thought to be up to 30 of them, while up to 20 others may occasionally cross the border, according to experts.

Mr Segur's head wound
Mr Segur required stitches after the attack

The French Government has paid about six million francs ($835,300) in compensation to farmers who have lost sheep since the wolves were first spotted.

More than 5,000 cases of wolves killing sheep have been claimed by farmers and French officials are said to be considering granting permits to farmers to shoot the wolves.

A row erupted between the authorities in Norway and Sweden earlier this year after Norway gave the go-ahead for a cull of nine grey wolves said to be causing serious damage to livestock.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

31 Jul 99 | Europe
French farmers warn of wolves
09 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Tourists key to saving wolves
25 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Wolves find haven in Italy
13 Feb 01 | Europe
Wolf cull battle goes to court
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