We could not fail to talk about the symbol of wilderness, freedom and the strength of nature: The Italian Wolf. Unfortunately, this magnificent animal has lived a really dark times as well as the rest of the ecological environment in Europe and the world. Centuries of persecution have failed to eradicate this canid that possesses one of the qualities that are most rewarded by evolution, the spirit of adaptation to change, even the most radical ones. Precisely this quality has allowed the wolf to survive and resist the assault of the man who has increasingly reduced the habitats and preys.
In the most hidden recesses of the ancient forests of the Central Italy, the Italian Wolf (Canis Lupus Italicus) has resisted, strengthened, and quietly regained its kingdom back from the hands of humankind.
From the last cells survived in the wildest valleys of the National Park of Abruzzo Lazio and Molise (PNALM), the wolf waited for its occasion, and when the pressure of the "lupari" (an old italian word for wolf hunters) and the poachers became less insistent, he slowly recolonized his old areal expanding back to the whole Apennine mountain chain.
Thanks to the abandonment of campaigns and the reintroduction of large mammals such as Red Deers and Roe Deers, the italian wolf suddenly found territories and prey, and the few debilitated and dispersed packs remains have finally returned close to their primitive state of numbers and strength.
The real winning move of this animal was the so-called "dispersion", in fact when a young male grows and becomes too exuberant to stay in the pack of origin, he is driven off by Alpha male and begins a long pilgrimage that can take months and hundreeds of kilometers of paths, looking for a female or other wandering wolves like him to create a whole pack and settling in a new territory.
From the human point of view, the italian wolf has always been an ambiguous and controversial element. The shepherds hate him, the citizens fear him, and animal lovers exalt him. In all this chaos where is the correct interpretation? You just have to look at the wolf for what it is, a wild animal. For sure it is not like described in the traditions: it won't jump out of the woods to feasts on us while walking quietly on our way neither it is specialized preying on our livestock.. The truth, as always, is right in the middle! Wolves should be managed for what they are: a great predator with a prominent role in the ecosystem. Many italian "low-hand" politicians in different regions are paving the way to get back the hunt like a century ago and giving free vent to poaching. Like for the Marsican Bear, the practice of trophy hunting, was found the main driving force for getting the opposite effect: the weakened pack will look for easy-to-gather food and in particular the domestic animals and waste in the cities suburbs. Moreover it was found that this may lead to ecosystem failure due to lack of selective actions over the wild grazers.
On the other hand, if we protect them without implementing any control measures, the sheperds' hate will grow to the point of seeing them exterminated. The wolves needs to be managed: well-arranged electrified fences periodically checked, well-trained and vaccinated Abruzzo Shepherd Dogs, and money compensation for those who suffer losses in livestock after veterinary examination. All of these measures, however, must be applied systematically and correctly to actually see the wolf-man conflict to an acceptable minimum.
This must be accompanied by information and awareness through also the creation of wildlife areas such as Civitella Alfedena wolf center, to teach next generations what magnificient animals they are.
Because, as in all fields, the lack of knowledge of something brings only distrust, hatred and violence.
Returning to us from this serious and due digression, scientifically and ecologically, there is no doubt that the italian wolf is an extraordinary animal in every aspect!
From the ecological side, the wolf guarantees the efficience of the entire ecosystem, which plays a role in regulation that makes it healthy. In Yellowstone Park, Wyoming (USA), it was studied how re-introducing the wolf has favored the recovery of the entire natural system. The large herds of American bisons and deers without the control of the wolf swarmed in the great forests and meadows trampling and eating all kinds of plants up to the buds, without distinction, causing a significant loss of biodiversity to the point that even the banks of the rivers no longer protected from the vegetation they were eroded causing floods and other damage.
All this chain effect that goes from the most imposing trees to the health of the herbivore population to end up in the rivers and insects has been defeated by the reintroduction of the Gray Wolf, which exerted its selective predatory pressure on the great herds, contained the numbers and thus indirectly protected the grassy vegetation and rivers of this great park that since its reintroduction has seen its ecological state exponentially improved.
From the behavioral aspect, the wolf is just extraordinary. Observing interactions and behaviors within a pack or hunting action is something really amazing, we do not normally think that a bunch of wild animals can have so many hues of hierarchical and relational character, so if you're so lucky enough to look at them in one of our national parks, you will be impressed by their organization. Their hunting techniques are so advanced and effective to make their succesful preying rate one of the highest in the animal kingdom.
Its fame, its incomparable talent and its elusiveness make the italian wolf the specter of forests.
Many hiking guides specialized over time in offering unique experiences of spotting such great predators in thei natural environment, adding an unprecedented extra content to an hiking escursion! There are many methods to see such an elusive animal in nature: the most diffused and effective are certenly the wolf howling (consisting on the reproduction of the howling sounds hoping for the pack to answer the calls), the snow tracking (following the tracks over the snow is very effective to understand whether they are present or not) or the sighting of rendez-vous site where they gather every day before their patrols.
We personally think that the most beautiful thing is knowing, while walking in an uncontaminated place, that probably a curious wolf is staring at us from the forest's depths. This experience strenghten the spirit and merges us with the environment we are exploring.. just unique!