Decades Of Protection Pay Off As The Italian Wolf Population Rebounds And Grows After Near Extinction

Wolves are loved and hated all over the world. Recently we reported on trouble in the United States where persistent efforts to reintroduce wolves to their former range are met with mixed success and much hostility.

We also reported on problems in Asia where wolves in Tibet appear to be expanding their range. That delights some and enrages others.

brown wolf
Wolves are a bit f a Rohrschach Test. Do you see a Doglike being or a Destructive Pest?Photo by Steve on

Today’s focus is Italy. A recent count indicates that 3,300 wolves make the peninsula their home.In the Appenine and Alps mountain ranges wolves appear to be increasing in number. Italian wolves may be met with a warmer welcome than elsewhere. Some see them as a natural solution to problems caused by an explosion in the wild boar population. Wild boars are roaming the streets and countryside near Rome and other cities.

wild boar walking in hayfield
Wild boar are on the menu for both humans and wolves. They will eat almost anything, are very fertile and quite destructive. Photo by Dario Fernandez Ruz on

The Big Bad Wolf was once common throughout Europe. Various subspecies of canis lupus, the gray wolf, were found throughout western and eastern Europe. Wolves and humans were enemies for centuries. Wolves are determined and smart. Extermination took centuries. They were hunted to extinction in the British Isles by 1800.

On the continent wolves were the subject of constant assault. The old Soviet Union attempted to fully exterminate them. The animals were reduced to remnant populations until public attitudes started to change in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Russian wolves are still unprotected, but those surviving in most of the rest of Europe are protected and many populations are at least stable, Many countries pay compensation for livestock killed by wolves.

landscape photography of white mountain
The Italian Alps are prime wolf habitat and the packs are apparently moving into surrounding countries.Photo by Julius Silver on

Italy counted its wolves in 2020 and 2021 the count was conducted by ISPRA The National Institute for Environmental Protection.

According to the website Weird Italy (linked above) ISPRA was thorough in its technique:

Alpine region area946 (822 – 1099)
Italian peninsular area2388 (2020 – 2645)
Total3307 (2945 – 3608)
A table showing estimates of Italian wolf population (Weird Italy)

“The monitoring was conducted by dividing the national territory into cells of 10×10 kilometers and carrying out two separate analyzes for the Regions-Autonomous Provinces of the Alps area and the Regions of peninsular Italy. The presence of the wolf, says Ispra, “has been documented by 6,520 photographic sightings with camera traps, 491 ungulate carcasses preyed upon by the wolf, 1,310 tracks, 171 dead wolves, as well as by 16,000 excrements found on the ground. 1,500 genetic analyzes were conducted which made it possible to identify the species. A total of 85,000 kilometers were traveled on foot to collect the data necessary for the investigation “.

The results show that wolves inhabit almost all of the suitable habitat on the peninsula.

Sicilian wolves were eradicated in the 20th century. No reintroduction plans were mentioned.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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