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The Apennine Wolf

Updated on May 5, 2012

Sibillini National Park

The Apennine/Italian Wolf (Canis lupus italicus)

This relatively rare wolf is a sub species of the Grey Wolf, and thankfully has a very pure lineage unaffected by interbreeding with dogs. It was first documented in 1921, but was not actually recognised as a sub species of Wolf until 1999.

Although found mostly in the Apennines, it has recently crossed through the Alps in to Switzerland where it has been sighted.

This Wolf is of medium size, the male reaching weights of 88lbs and the female about 10% lighter. Their colouring is a blended brown or grey, but there have been , again recently, black Italian Wolves seen in the Murgello Region of Italy and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.

They are nocturnal hunters and their diet consists of Chamois, Red deer, Roe deer and Cinghali(Wild Boar), they will also sometimes eat berries and wild fruit for roughage. The packs tend to be small in number, but this is due to the scarcity of big prey animals in the wild. It is only in the protected National parks here in Central and in Northern Italy that they may number as many as 7 animals.

A pack consists of the Alpha pair who are the ones who reproduce, pups and younger adults who will remain with the family unit until of an age to breed themselves. At this time they will disperse and either join another pack, or form their own.

Mating takes place in mid_march and there is a 2 month pregnancy, the mothers age determining how many cubs will be born per litter. This can be anything from 2-8 with the cubs at birth weighing in 250-350 grams. Their eyes open at 11-12 days old, and they are weaned off an entirely milk diet around 45days old, although they cannot digest meat easily until in their third to fourth month of age. Something truly special about wolf packs is the care of each other and particularly the young. They form a really close family unit and so even if one or both of the Alpha parents is away hunting the youngest of the pack will always be cared for.


Conservation and Conservation Status

Under the Berne Convention wolves are listed as Endangered, the Apennine Wolf is considered in a Vulnerable state. It is illegal to kill them, however official culls are permitted to protect farm animals but only if there is no threat to the number of Italian Wolves.

And hereby lies the problem. Some of the Apennine Wolves have been reintroduced into the wild in areas where there are too few prey animals, particularly in the winter months. As the deer and Cinghali move down the mountains in search of food , so the wolves follow. This almost always leads them to farming and populated areas, and of course here the wolves find easy prey in the farm animals, mostly sheep.. Illegal or not, there is retaliation and wolves are shot. So although the numbers have climbed to 500-600 maintaining and increasing the wolf population is going to be and is a conservation nightmare!!

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    • AnimalWrites profile image

      AnimalWrites 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Interesting information on the Apennine wolf. Ecosystems need their apex predators, so these wolves need to be protected. Unfortunately, a lot of people have an unreasonable fear of wolves; as they hunt mainly at night and will avoid human contact where possible they actually pose very little risk to human life

    • clairemy profile image
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      Claire 5 years ago

      Animal Writes, thankyou for your comment. And of course you are correct, there is still an unreasonable fear of these lovely animals.

    • NidoNyte profile image

      NidoNyte 5 years ago from The Lone Star State

      What gorgeous animal the lupines are. It's too bad they are scorned by so much of society for just trying to get what they need.

    • clairemy profile image
      Author

      Claire 5 years ago

      Thankyou for that comment, and I completely agree, they are gorgeous.

    • Dubuquedogtrainer profile image

      Dubuquedogtrainer 5 years ago from Dubuque, Iowa

      Interesting - voted up! I have a fascination with wolves and have spent some time with them but was not familiar with this particular subspecies.

    • clairemy profile image
      Author

      Claire 5 years ago

      Thankyou for the visit and vote. Actually I only became aware whilst living in Italy, because before thenI thought they were extinct in the country.

    • clairemy profile image
      Author

      Claire 5 years ago

      Thankyou so much for the vote. Wolves are still much maligned, and I did not know about these ones, but have actually seen a couple.....biggest paws!!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      What a tightly-written article with an excellent array of photos! Not unlike seeing a war movie made from the perspective of the USA's former enemies, what I received from this Hub was a deeper insight and greater empathy for these beautiful creatures because of the unique perspective you delivered it with. Thank you for that blessing!

      Voted up, interesting, awesome, and beautiful!

    • clairemy profile image
      Author

      Claire 5 years ago

      Thankyou so much, for such a wonderful and encouraging comment. They truly are a wonderful animal.

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 4 years ago from Yorkshire

      clairemy

      an interesting hub, which uses photographs well to illustrate the article. Wolves, like so many preditors are always going to be in conflict with man's needs as our populations explode worldwide. The same prolems are found around the world, and of course there is controvosy about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone park in N. America.

      When I lived in Russia some years ago, a village I visited was in uproar, because wolves had eaten a schoolboy who had been turned off the school bus for misbehaving, and also the postman off his bike. So people's concerns are genuine ones.

      regards

      Tony

    • clairemy profile image
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      Claire 4 years ago

      thankyou for the comment, and yes, there are genuine concerns, butwouldn`t it be better if a solution was found where people and the wildlife could coexist in harmony.

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 4 years ago from Yorkshire

      clairemy,

      I agree whole heartedly with your reply, the only solution is to stop the sprawl of human urbanisation, and will not be easy.

      One night I was sailing along the river Svir in Russia, and the moon was low on the horizon and it seamed as if we were sailing up a moon beam, and either side of the river, wolves were calling. It was magic.

    • clairemy profile image
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      Claire 4 years ago

      No it will not be easy, and the fact that we have seven billion people on the planet and it is celebrated makes me wonder if animals will ever get back their space.

    • mandarmk9 profile image

      Mandar Karandikar 4 years ago from Ratlam, India

      Claire,

      I really love animals, and that makes me love your hubs. Amazing job.

      :) Mandar

    • clairemy profile image
      Author

      Claire 4 years ago

      Thankyou very much for reading and commenting. I love all animals and really enjoy writing about them, especially the research..

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