02 Mar 2018

Wolves in Maremma

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The Tuscan Maremma boasts the presence of excellent dairies in its territory, the main product is its Pecorino cheese. Unfortunately, sheep are also a known prey of the wolf.
Wolves have always been present in the Maremma hills, but in antiquity the sheep flocks were accompanied and protected by shepherds and their maremma dogs. Due to persecution throughout the 20th century the wolf population declined and completely disappeared from parts of the Maremma territory. During its absence and because of structural changes in the livestock breeding economy, sheep herding became no longer necessary and increasingly difficult to carry out. Shepherds got used to this state of affairs, until the wolf came back to our hills, crossing over the mountains from remnant populations in the Apennines. Wolf recovery can be traced back to the wolf’s protection in the 70s and to the recent increase in its natural prey: roe deer and wild boar.


Although this can be regarded as a conservation success story, sheep depredations constitute a severe business risk for the sheep breeding sector, which is already suffering due to the low market prices of its products. Over the past years the Maremma has been a fertile ground for the experimentation of possible strategies to promote coexistence between wolves and the livestock breeding sector. Check out the websites of Medwolf and Difesattiva for more information on the efforts being carried out in this direction, and on the damage prevention methods being employed in the area.


Plenty of research has also been carried out on the phenomenon of hybridazion between wolves and feral dogs in the Maremma. The more enthusiastic wolf followers can read more about this in webpage of the Ibriwolf project.





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