In Austria, the whole state area is included as project area. The Austrian Alps with an area of 52,000 km² represent more than a quarter of the Alpine region. Located in the north-eastern part of the Alpine arch, and therefore characterized by lower mountains and fewer areas above the forest line, Austria offers an excellent habitat for species that frequent wooded areas such as large carnivores.
Furthermore, according to hunting records, Austria some of the highest density of ungulates in the world. Despite these good natural conditions, large carnivores are only present in small numbers and are highly endangered.
When looking at wolf populations, Austria lies in between the Alpine wolf population in the Western Alps, the Dinaric population in the Southeast, the Carpathian population in the Northeast and the Central European lowland population in the North. In the future, Austria may be a melting pot for these four populations. The parents of all three packs that are currently (2019) found in Austria all originate from the Central European lowland population.
These first Austrian packs are present outside the Alps, in the peripheral lowland areas in the east of the country.
The project will extend actions to this area where wolf packs are present, considering them an important source for wolves recolonizing the Alps.
Due to this special geographic location Austria is of high importance for a wolf population covering Central Europe and the gene flow between the existing populations. Nevertheless, the attitude of important stakeholders such as hunters and sheep farmers is not in favour of the return of the wolves. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to work on the improvement of the coexistence of wolf and human in the rural landscapes of Austria.