The project area covers the entire Italian Alpine territory: a vast area of about 1,200 kilometres in length, with an area of about 51,941 square kilometres, or about 27% of the total area of the Alps. The project area extends within the borders of seven regions, whose mountain component varies from 100% of Valle d’Aosta to 29% of Veneto. Moreover, in the western part of the area, given the recent expansion of the species also in the hills and plains, the project covers the entire Ligurian-Piedmontese regional territory.
A continuous persecution led to the extinction of the wolf in the Italian Alps at the beginning of the 20th century. In the Western Alps, the natural recovery of the species began in the 1990s: here in 1996-97 the first cross-border packs between Italy and France were documented. Although illegal killing is still a present and locally problematic phenomenon, the trend of the Alpine wolf population has been positive in the last twenty years. In 2017-2018 the wolf population in the Italian Alps reached a total of 51 stable wolf packs/pairs for a minimum of 293 wolves, most of them located in the Western Alps. The central-eastern part of the population is in strong expansion, although largely originating from the first pair formed in Lessinia in 2012.
The Italian Alpine area is currently important as a connection site between the Italian Apennine wolf population and the wolf population of the Dinaric Alps. The natural return of the species takes place primarily in rural and mountain areas, where the zootechnical activity is more or less intense and impacted by the predator.
Recently also the hilly, riverside and more anthropized areas are subject to the natural return of the wolf. The interactions between the presence of the wolf and the breeding activity have always been a source of conflict: it is of fundamental importance to invest locally in systems to prevent attacks on livestock and to support the work of farmers to promote the coexistence between wolf and human activities.