An automatic camera in Normandy, Northern France has captured images of a large canine. Authorities suspect that it is a European gray wolf. If they are correct in their suspicions, it is going to be the first time that a wolf was seen in that region of France in over 100 years.
A local news report stated that the image of the lone canine was taken in Londinières, a village located northeast of Normandy on the night of April 7-8. An infrared camera was used to take the image.
French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) authorities feel that it is a gray wolf (Canis lupus lupus) but they are approaching it cautiously, saying that confirmation will require additional information.
“Given the quality of the images provided and considering that many breeds of dogs can have a size and coat colors similar to that of a wolf, this expertise should be considered with some reservation,” the OFB, which was sent images of the suspected wolf on April 12, said in a press release.
“The photo was analyzed by several people experienced in the identification of the wolf and who concluded that there was a high probability,” a spokesperson from the OFB told Newsweek. “However, it cannot 100 percent be said it is a wolf… Only DNA analysis on biological material would remove doubts.”
Wolf seen in northern France for first time in a century, after being hunted to extinction https://t.co/bsJE4cFCxq
— The Independent (@Independent) April 23, 2020
“This type of observation of an animal alone and far from the areas where the species is installed is characteristic of individuals in the dispersal phase, a phenomenon which occurs twice in the year, in the spring and in the fall,” the OFB said in a press release. The OFB said that young wolves will leave their pack to seek a mate.
“These colonizing individuals can travel several hundreds of kilometers before settling,” said the OFB. “This explains in particular certain isolated observations, far from known permanent presence zones, as in Seine-Maritime.”
It was not unusual to see wolves in Europe, but human activity has caused their population to drop significantly in the last century. Locally, the species were thought to have been extinct.
Recent conservation efforts may have turned the tide and helped to revive the population of Europe’s wolves. Almost all countries on the European mainland have reported spottings. A report published in 2015 by the European Union identified 10 distinct populations from Portugal to Poland. Spain and Italy also have some fairly healthy populations. The majority of wolves are found in the Baltic states.
It was in 1992 that wolves were confirmed to be in France when they were spotted in the national park in the Alps. The International Wolf Center reported that populations have expanded from Italy to Mercantour in south-east France and further northwards along the French Alpine chain.
The OFB reported in June 2019 that the wolf population had increased from approximately 432 to 530 in only one year. It has pushed them over the threshold of 500 individual animals needed to ensure the sustainability of a wolf population in the country.
“We now consider that the wolf is no longer a species at risk of extinction, which is a good thing in terms of biodiversity,” Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said at the time, according to thelocal.fr.
Conservationists at the OFB did state that the population growth was mainly because they were growing in the Alpine region. They also talked about new colonization regions, including as far north as Central mastiff and Aube-Yonne.
According to a report from Le Parisien, a woman had spotted a wolf in the Department of Charente, western France earlier this year. A sighting has not been reported since 1926.
The International Wolf Center reports that there are some 13,000 wolves estimated to be in all of Europe, excluding Russia.
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