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Located in the grounds of the Bourbansais castle in Brittany, where I presented the tiger and the lion, here today... The wolf...

The wolf is the largest predator in Europe. He has always held a special place in the relationship between humans and their natural environment. Similarity in social systems, food requirements and hunting techniques associated territoriality and a behavioral and ecological flexibility of the wolf was a partner and a competitor of man since the dawn of history. The attitude of man toward the wolf ranged from competition and extermination in the wild admiration, and leaving little room for indifference.

Wolves were exterminated in most of Europe during the last two centuries, they have probably reached their minimum size in the mid-twentieth century. All European wolf populations have not been hunted to extermination, and reduced but healthy populations survived in the three Mediterranean peninsulas. Larger populations have survived in many countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The current staff of wolf populations are considerable variations from one European country to another, but these populations, often isolated, digital still show negative trends. Wolves need to roam vast areas and disperse over long distances: these two features require a conservation strategy to embrace large-scale whole regions of Europe, above and beyond national borders.

Last twenty years, the wolves return to some of the areas where they had been exterminated many decades ago: some of these areas, such as the Alps or the Scandinavian Peninsula, require international cooperation that can not be fully realized that 'at European level. This evidence, coupled with the need for an integrated conservation strategy that takes into account the Common Agricultural Policy, is the main justification for the pan-European approach to the conservation of the wolf that is proposed here.

The wolves can survive anywhere there is something to eat, whether large prey or content of trash, and where they are not killed by humans. They can adapt to live in contact with human activities as they are not disturbed. In their search for food, they may attack livestock and cause serious depredations (but no documented cases of an attack of man has never been reported in Europe in the last century). The conflict with human economies, the main reason for the regulation of the wolf, is still the leading cause of death for this predator. The wolf is protected in most European countries (Berne Convention and Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora), but there are important exceptions in Spain, Greece and Finland, and also in some Eastern European countries where it is still run game.

Management and conservation of the wolf are not easy tasks, given the coexistence of complex facts, such as predation practiced on livestock and wild prey, and irrational elements such as prejudice, legends, and misinterpretations of the biology of the species. If the wolf has been extensively studied in North America, few scientific data are available for Europe, and the flexibility of the species requires that specific research programs are conducted on European populations are most representative. It is extremely important to establish an effective monitoring program throughout Europe, to continuously collect reliable information on the number of wolf populations, their activities and their economic impact on livestock . Cross-border cooperation will be essential to ensure proper conservation of the wolf and manage the expected return of the case in much of Central and Western Europe. It will be necessary to manage public opinion on the basis of fair treatment, efficient and fair for all aspects of conflict involved the conservation of the wolf.


Note written by Luigi Boitani, Professor of Biology at the University of Rome.

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A good Sunday to all.

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Additional Photos by Jean Charles GUEGAN (JCG) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5705 W: 751 N: 9635] (35129)
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