The passage below is accompanied by four questions. Based on the passage, choose the best answer for each question.

RESIDENTS of Lozère, a hilly department in southern France, recite complaints familiar to many rural corners of Europe. In remote hamlets and villages, with names such as Le Bacon and Le Bacon Vieux, mayors grumble about a lack of local schools, jobs, or phone and internet connections. Farmers of grazing animals add another concern: the return of wolves. Eradicated from France last century, the predators are gradually creeping back to more forests and hillsides. “The wolf must be taken in hand,” said an aspiring parliamentarian, Francis Palombi, when pressed by voters in an election campaign early this summer. Tourists enjoy visiting a wolf park in Lozère, but farmers fret over their livestock and their livelihoods. .
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As early as the ninth century, the royal office of the Luparii—wolf-catchers—was created in France to tackle the predators. Those official hunters (and others) completed their job in the 1930s, when the last wolf disappeared from the mainland. Active hunting and improved technology such as rifles in the 19th century, plus the use of poison such as strychnine later on, caused the population collapse. But in the early 1990s the animals reappeared. They crossed the Alps from Italy, upsetting sheep farmers on the French side of the border. Wolves have since spread to areas such as Lozère, delighting environmentalists, who see the predators’ presence as a sign of wider ecological health. Farmers, who say the wolves cause the deaths of thousands of sheep and other grazing animals, are less cheerful. They grumble that green activists and politically correct urban types have allowed the return of an old enemy.

Various factors explain the changes of the past few decades. Rural depopulation is part of the story. In Lozère, for example, farming and a once-flourishing mining industry supported a population of over 140,000 residents in the mid-19th century. Today the department has fewer than 80,000 people, many in its towns. As humans withdraw, forests are expanding. In France, between 1990 and 2015, forest cover increased by an average of 102,000 hectares each year, as more fields were given over to trees. Now, nearly one-third of mainland France is covered by woodland of some sort. The decline of hunting as a sport also means more forests fall quiet. In the mid-to-late 20th century over 2m hunters regularly spent winter weekends tramping in woodland, seeking boars, birds and other prey. Today the Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs, the national body, claims 1.1m people hold hunting licences, though the number of active hunters is probably lower. The mostly protected status of the wolf in Europe—hunting them is now forbidden, other than when occasional culls are sanctioned by the state—plus the efforts of NGOs to track and count the animals, also contribute to the recovery of wolf populations.

As the lupine population of Europe spreads westwards, with occasional reports of wolves seen closer to urban areas, expect to hear of more clashes between farmers and those who celebrate the predators’ return. Farmers’ losses are real, but are not the only economic story. Tourist venues, such as parks where wolves are kept and the animals’ spread is discussed, also generate income and jobs in rural areas.

Question 11

Which one of the following statements, if true, would weaken the author’s claims?


The author's claims seem to be focused on the conflicts between farmers and the return of wolves, the economic implications, and the coexistence challenges. If wolf attacks on tourists were on the rise, it might shift the narrative and suggest a broader safety concern beyond the impact on farmers, potentially weakening the author's emphasis on the positive economic aspects of wolf-related tourism. Therefore Option C, if true, would weaken the author’s argument.

Option A supports the author's claims about the return of wolves to Lozère.

Option B is not directly related to the author's claims about conflicts between farmers and wolves or the economic implications of wolf-related tourism.

Option D , if true, would not necessarily weaken the author's claims but might be seen as providing additional information about land use in Lozère.

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