The Wolf Intelligencer

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir

Italian Wolf (Canis lupus italicus)

Italian Wolf (Canis lupus italicus)(Altobello, 1921)

Common Names: Apennine Wolf, Lupo Appenninico

The wolf from Grotta Mora Cavorso (Simbruini mountains, Latium) within the evolution of Canis lupus L., 1758 in the Quaternary of Italy. Salari L, Achino KF, Gatta M, Petronio C, Rolfo MF, Silvestri L, Pandolfi L. Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology. 2017 Jun

Overall population: unknown -1500-2000?

Physical description:
“The Italian wolf population represents an interesting case study for its uniqueness worldwide. At the beginning of the 20th century Altobello (1921) described the Italian wolf as a distinct subspecies, C.l.italicus, based on its peculiar morphological traits: relatively small average size (110–148cm body length, plus the tail), dark bands along the back and fore limbs, black tail tip, and distinct craniometrical features, recently confirmed by Nowak and Federoff (2002).”
A new mitochondrial haplotype confirms the distinctiveness of the Italian wolf (Canis lupus) population. Montana L, Caniglia R, Galaverni M, Fabbri E, Randi E. Mammalian Biology. 2017 May

Original rangeWidespread on the Italian peninsula, including Sicily (Until mid-1800’s).

Current rangeItaly. Throughout the Italian Peninsula

“The Italian wolf (Canis lupus italicus) population has remained isolated South of the Alps for the last few thousand years. After a strong decline, the species has recolonized the Apennines and the Western Alps, while it is currently struggling to colonize the Eastern Alps. Recently, the species was detected in a lowland park connecting the Northern Apennines to the Central Alps. If the park was able to sustain a net wolf dispersal flow, this could significantly boost the connection with the Eastern Alps and the Dinaric-Balkan population.”

Combining ensemble models and connectivity analyses to predict wolf expected dispersal routes through a lowland corridor. Dondina O, Orioli V, Torretta E, Merli F, Bani L, Meriggi A. Plos one. 2020 Feb

Habitat / Ecology / Prey:
Habitat – mountains, hilly lowlands


Primary in Northern Italy roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), wild boar (Sus scrofa)
Primary in Central Italy wild boar (Sus scrofa), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), livestock (sheep (Ovis aries), horses (Equus callabus)
Alternativefallow deer (Dama dama), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), red deer (Cervus elaphus), mouflon (Ovis aries musimon), Italian hare (Lepus corsicanus) European hares (Lepus europaeus), livestock (goats (Capra hircus), sheep (Ovis aries), cattle calves (bos tauras)) OTHER food; birds,  invertebrates, fruit, berries, grasses, herbs, garbage.

“Surprisingly, we did not find significant changes of the food categories from grazing to non-grazing seasons, with the exception of fruits that were more eaten in the grazing one. As for wild ungulates, wolves used wild boar in winter and roe deer in summer; in summer, roe deer are more vulnerable because of the presence of young, and in winter,several wild boars are injured and not retrieved by hunters during drive hunts and consequently are easily found and caught by wolves.Moreover snow depth makes wild boars more vulnerable to predation (Okarma, 1995).”

Why do wolves eat livestock?: Factors influencing wolf diet in northern Italy. Imbert C, Caniglia R, Fabbri E, Milanesi P, Randi E, Serafini M, Torretta E, Meriggi A. Biological Conservation. 2016 Mar

“The most recent research (Procaccio 2015) confirmed the high selectivity which characterizes the wolf diet, with an almost exclusive consumption of wild ungulates (83.8%, represented by wild boar 25.2 %, roe deer 65.9%, fallow deer 3.4%) and very low value of diet breadth (B =0.17). The most important result of this last study was the significant increase in the use of roe deer, which probably depends on the recent expansion of wolves towards lower elevation hilly zones.”

Recent changes in wolf habitat occupancy and feeding habits in Italy: implications for conservation and reducing conflict with humans. Meriggi A, Torretta E, Dondina O. InProblematic Wildlife II 2020 May

“The PNALM, a critical stronghold for wolves in Italy when they were most exposed to extinction risk (Zimen and Boitani,1975), adopted since the 1970s farsighted conservation measures aimed to enhance the ecological conditions for wolves;these included the strict protection of the Apennine chamois and the reintroduction of the previously extirpated roe and red deer (Tassi, 1976). This, in addition to the hunter-assisted releases and successive expansion of wild boar throughout the region, facilitated the re-establishment of the rich and diversified wild prey community to which wolves are currently exposed. Accordingly, we confirmed that roe deer, wild boar and red deer are all actively predated by wolves in the PNALM.Nevertheless, beyond our expectations, we also revealed that livestock, and in particular carcasses of cattle and horses, largely affected wolves’ feeding behavior and predominated their diet in terms of biomass.”

Anthropogenic food subsidies hinder the ecological role of wolves: Insights for conservation of apex predators in human-modified landscapes. Ciucci P, Mancinelli S, Boitani L, Gallo O, Grottoli L. Global Ecology and Conservation. 2020 Mar

Beautiful Birds in Italy!

Common Raven (Corvus corax), hooded crow (Corvus cornix), carrion crow (Corvus corone), rook (Corvus frugilegus), European jackdaw (Coloeus monedula), Eurasian magpie (Pica pica pica), Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius), Alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus), Italian sparrow (Passer italiae), Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops), European roller (Coracias garrulus), sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)… SEE MORE

Legal and Cultural Background:
Legally protected as of July 23, 1971. The wolf is a protected species under Italian National Law n. 157/1992. And protected by the European Legislation – 1979 Bern Convention (Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats) Appendix II (Strictly Protected Species). 1992 Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix II (Habitat Conservation Needs) Appendix IV (Full Protection).

Canislupus Italia (Firenzuola (Firenze, Italy).
LIFE MEDWOLF (Roma, Italy)

Taxonomic/Genetic Information:

A new mitochondrial haplotype confirms the distinctiveness of the Italian wolf (Canis lupus) population. Montana L, Caniglia R, Galaverni M, Fabbri E, Randi E. Mammalian Biology. 2017 May

“The species has re-colonized the northern Apennines (since the late 1980’s) and reached the western Alps (from the early 1990’s) through the ecological corridor of Liguria (a NW region of Italy) (Lucchini et al. 2002; Valiere et al. 2003; Fabbri et al. 2007). A moderate bottleneck occurred during the re-colonization process, and gene flow between the Apennines was moderated (1.25-2.50 wolves per generation (Fabbri et al. 2007). Bottleneck simulations showed that a total of 8-16 effective founders explained the genetic diversity observed in the Alps (Fabbri et al. 2007). Nowadays, the expansion of the wolf range into continuing toward the eastern Alps and Europe (Switzerland, Austria and France).”

Recent changes in wolf habitat occupancy and feeding habits in Italy: implications for conservation and reducing conflict with humans. Meriggi A, Torretta E, Dondina O. InProblematic Wildlife II 2020 May


Further Reading


Journal Articles / Scientific Publications:

Gastrointestinal helminths of wolves (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758) in Piedmont, north-western Italy. de Macedo MR, Zanet S, Bruno S, Tolosano A, Marucco F, Rossi L, Muller G, Ferroglio E.Journal of helminthology. 2020

Identification of Pantropic Canine Coronavirus in a Wolf (Canis lupus italicus) in Italy
F Alfano, G Dowgier, MP Valentino… – Journal of wildlife …, 2018

… infections in faecal samples of Apennine wolf (Canis lupus italicus) and Marsican brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) in two protected national parks of central Italy
…, L Gentile, S Angelucci, C Amicucci… – Annals of …, 2017

[HTML] Italian wolves (Canis lupus italicus Altobello, 1921) and molecular detection of taeniids in the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, Northern Italian Apennines
G Poglayen, F Gori, B Morandi, R Galuppi… – International Journal for …, 2017

Helminth parasites of the red fox Vulpes vulpes (L., 1758) and the wolf Canis lupus italicus Altobello, 1921 in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
A Fiocchi, A Gustinelli, L Gelmini, G Rugna… – Italian Journal of …, 2016

One, no one, or one hundred thousand: how many wolves are there currently in Italy?.. Galaverni, Marco; Caniglia, Romolo; Fabbri, Elena; Milanesi, Pietro; Randi, Ettore (2016). Mammal Research.

Changes of wolf (Canis lupus) diet in Italy in relation to the increase of wild ungulate abundance. Meriggi A, Brangi A, Schenone L, Signorelli D, Milanesi P. Ethology Ecology & Evolution. 2011 Jul

Il Lupo: Un predatore sociale ed adattabile, in Apollonio, Marco; Mattioli, Luca, Il Lupo in provincia di Arezzo (in Italian), Montepulciano (SI): Viviani, Alessia; Gazzola, Andrea; Scandura, Massimo (2006), Editrice Le Balze,

Food habits of wolves in central Italy based on stomach and intestine analyses
F Pezzo, L Parigi, R Fico – Acta theriologica, 2003

The systematic status of the Italian wolf Canis lupus. Nowak, R. M.; Federoff, N. E. (2002). Acta Theriologica.

Wolf food habits and wild ungulate availability in the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, Italy. Mattioli L, Apollonio M, Mazzarone V, Centofanti E. Acta Theriologica. 1995 Dec

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