Hybridization control

Captured the first hybrid in the Liguria region within the LIFE WolfAlps EU project

7 June 2022

On 12 May 2022, the first hybrid was captured in the Ligurian Apennine corridor: a two-year-old female with a dark coat. The capture was carried out by the technical-veterinary staff of the Wolf Apennine Centre of the National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines (PNATE), which collaborates with the Liguria Region thanks to an agreement signed within the framework of LIFE WolfAlps EU. The centre has gained in-depth experience in the management of problems related to human-wolf coexistence, and in particular in the management and prevention of hybridisation, also thanks to the LIFE M.I.R.CO-Lupo project “Minimising the impact of dog straying on wolf conservation in Italy” (which took place between 2015 and 2020). The subject of the agreement is precisely the collaboration of the PNATE staff in the monitoring, capture and management of hybrids in the Apennine ecological corridor.

Captured the first hybrid in the Liguria region within the LIFE WolfAlps EU project - Life Wolfalps EU
The dark-coated female being transported to be housed in a special facility at PNATE.

The capture took place in the woods of Val Petronio, where the Liguria Region, through its Fauna-Environmental Surveillance Unit, and thanks also to the collaboration with some volunteers of the Ambito territoriale di Caccia ‘Genova 2 Levante’ (Genoa 2 Levante Hunting Area), has been monitoring the presence of wolves in the territory of the Genoa Metropolitan City for some years now, which has allowed the presence of animals with a dark phenotype to be recorded, such as the young female captured this month.

The female was transported to a structure specially built by PNATE (during the LIFE M.I.R.CO-Lupo project) for the temporary holding of presumed hybrids, pending the response of the genetic analyses on hybridisation. Following ISPRA’s opinion and the authorisation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition, the female was sterilised, fitted with a GPS radio-collar and released into the wild in the same area where she was captured. The data acquired from monitoring will be important for understanding its movements and whether it is a dispersing animal or a member of a herd. In the meantime, photo-trap monitoring will continue in Val Petronio, which is important for identifying other suspected hybrids in the area and organising future trapping sessions.

Captured the first hybrid in the Liguria region within the LIFE WolfAlps EU project - Life Wolfalps EU
After sterilisation, the female was released in the area where she was captured. Thanks to the GPS collar it will be possible to follow her movements

All the stages of the operation, from monitoring to release, followed the procedure provided for by the “Guidelines for the management of hybrids in the Alpine Regions, ITA”, document developed within LWA EU and the result of a sharing process between the Alpine regions, ISPRA, experts and various territorial authorities directly involved in the operational management of the hybridisation phenomenon.