Wolves in Italy
“There are now between 500 and 1,000 wolves living in Italy and the outlook is far more rosy than it was 30 years ago when no more than 100 remained in scattered areas,” said Luigi Boitani, who heads La Sapienza University’s Animal and Human Biology Department, ANSA reported.
Italy is calling on its European neighbours to put a stop to the “extermination” of wolves, which it claims is jeopardising decades of effort in reintroducing the beautiful but ferocious mammal to the wild.
Canis Lupus The essential site for Italian wolf watchers and includes active forum- In Italian
Il Centro per lo studio e la documentazione sul lupo è una associazione senza finalità di lucro nata nel 1999 affiliata alla Federazione Nazionale Pro Natura, nata per permettere a tutte le persone interessate al predatore, ricercatori o semplici appassionati, di poter approfondire le proprie conoscenze, sulle problematiche legate alla conservazione della specie ed essere coinvolti in prima persona nelle ricerche.
The Italian wolf, which occurs in the Italian Peninsula, Switzerland and Southern France, was classed by naturalist Giuseppe Altobello as a distinct subspecies in 1921, on account of its lower hind quarters,and its “typical gray-brownish coat and a black stripe on the frontal part of the anterior legs.” The classification was at first rejected, but in 2000 the publication of more detailed morphological and genetic comparisons suggested it should be re-instituted, as there are additional although more subtle distinguishing features. In one theory,divergence of the Italian wolf began when the Apennines became a southern refugium for species displaced from Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum at about 18000 years BP. Although now treated by MSW3 as synonymous to the Eurasian wolf, certain scientists have called for it being classed as distinct in light of genetic differences
At some point in the last 10,000 years, a black dog mated with a normal colored wolf in North America, and a whole new coloration was introduced to the wolves. Gregory Barsh, a geneticist at Stanford University, has traced the gene in wolves back to the k black mutation. This mutation comes from dogs, not wolves.
This black color has also been found in Italian wolves, which have been known to interbreed with dogs– a lot. In fact, Italian wolves are so interbred with dogs, that some Italian wolves have hind dewclaws, which exist only in dogs. In fact, the presence of these hind dewclaws is used to identify wolves that have dog in them.
There are never any certainties when wildlife watching, but the Naturetrek group which has just returned from Abruzzo (Italy) were treated to some stunning encounters. The Abruzzo National Park in the central Apennines is one of the strongholds of the elusive Marsican Brown Bear. One was sighted in the distance, on a hillside, but a couple of evenings later we spent over an hour watching one grazing in meadows opposite us. We had excellent views and only left when it was too dark to see it any longer! Some of the group, returning to the airport soon after dawn, also saw one at about 50 metres, climbing away from the road. Three members of the group, walking up to the Prato Rosso meadows, were thrilled when two Apennine Wolves ran across the path in front of them, and on other days we had superb views of groups of Chamois at close range.