The first national wolf monitoring plan in Italy will start in autumn 2020: the LIFE WolfAlps project will coordinate the Alpine regions.
For the first time since the wolf was considered a protected species, Italian national institutions are joining forces to estimate its distribution and consistency from the Alps to Calabria at the same time, using drawings of advanced standardised sampling and protocols, developed by the Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA). The Ministry of the Environment mandated ISPRA to produce an updated estimate of the wolf’s distribution and consistency at national level. In order to respond to this ambitious challenge, ISPRA has created a highly specialised working group, involving zoologists and geneticists, and has started a collaboration with Federparchi Europarc Italia (the Italian Federation of Parks and Nature Reserves) and the LIFE WolfAlps EU project.
ISPRA’s experts, with the support of a pool of university researchers, have combined in an extremely innovative way a probabilistic sampling design with the most advanced survey techniques tested on the species, to obtain an estimate of the wolf population and its distribution. Between December 2020 and March 2021, field data will be collected on the basis of homogeneous operational protocols, searching predetermined routes in about 1,000 cells of ten square kilometres distributed throughout the entire national territory. The results of the national monitoring will be made public and illustrated in detail in order to provide a credible and authoritative scientific knowledge base.
In particular, the LIFE WolfAlps EU project will provide experience, expertise and the network of monitoring operators already established with the LIFE WolfAlps project to coordinate and implement sampling in the Alpine regions, from Liguria (ecological corridor connecting the Alpine and Apennine populations) to Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The area to be sampled is much larger than in the past, including also low altitude territories and urban areas. For this reason it will be essential to increase the number of operators by training new volunteers.
Always interested in understanding the evolution of the wolf population, the hunting world will be strongly involved in the project areas. The Italian Alpine Club, the Italian Association of Environmental and Hiking Guides, the Io Non Ho Paura del Lupo association – all project supporters – together with many other associations have spread the invitation to participate in training and monitoring to their members.