Berkshire

Berkshire wolf escaped 'after gate left open'

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Media captionThe wolf, called Torak, was recaptured after about six hours on the run

A wolf which went on the loose for about six hours after escaping from its enclosure has been safely recaptured.

The animal, called Torak, was initially thought to have fled from the Wolf Conservation Trust's site in Beenham after strong winds damaged fencing.

The sanctuary has now said his enclosure gate may have been left open deliberately.

Thames Valley Police said the wolf travelled about eight miles before it was caught near the M4 motorway.

The force announced Torak's capture at about 13:40 GMT.

A spokesperson said: "It was safely detained by officers and staff from the sanctuary, who had been working to recapture it."

Teresa Palmer, who founded the sanctuary in Berkshire, helped encourage the 12-year-old wolf into a caged trailer.

She said the gate at the front of Torak's enclosure was open.

"I think somebody deliberately opened the gate. A lot of people don't particularly believe in having animals in captivity."

Ms Palmer added: "When we were near the wolf trust I was close to him but he was frightened and didn't want to be caught.

"The fact he went through a field of sheep shows he never would have been a danger to the public.

"Now he's given up. He's had his moment of freedom now."

Image copyright NPAS
Image caption Police tracked Torak from a helicopter with thermal imaging

An animal capture expert who was tracking Torak said police would have shot to kill if the wolf had run on to the motorway.

Mike Allison, from Animal Capture UK, said: "That would have been the only option available to prevent human injury or loss of life."

But he added that Torak "looks the most unaggressive wolf I have ever seen".

At the scene - BBC reporter Andy Jones

Image copyright PA
Image caption The animal fled from the Wolf Conservation Trust site in Beenham

It's relief all round here in the village of Curridge where the wolf has been found and, more importantly, not a single shot fired.

A dedicated team of animal catchers was on hand to fire a tranquiliser dart and were thankfully not needed.

The Wolf Conservation Trust owners managed to bring Torak back into care safe and well.

Dog owners who were out for a stroll near me have been asking if it's now safe to walk around here and the answer is yes. Life can get back to normal in this quaint little corner of Berkshire.

Thames Valley Police earlier put out a text warning to residents and schools in Berkshire, urging them to stay inside.

Officers had also advised members of the public not to approach the wolf if they saw it.

After the wolf was captured, a spokesperson said: "Schools, which were asked to keep pupils indoors, no longer need to do this."

Image caption Thames Valley Police sent local residents a text message warning of the wolf on the loose

Torak had been spotted at various locations, some more than 10 miles to the west of the sanctuary.

Local resident Daniel Brownlie told the BBC he ignored the wolf warning.

He said: "I had a local surgery appointment this morning as I'm off to Malawi at the end of the month. It was a decision between getting malaria tablets or getting eaten by a wolf. I took the risk."

One parent, Tony Roe, had earlier said police officers were outside his child's local primary school by 08:30 to usher pupils inside.

He said: "An officer on the school gate told me a wolf had escaped after wind blew down part of the fence."

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