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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995

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During the past 20 years, the wolf population in Italy began expanding into the central mountain region and eventually into France. They were first seen between the Vallée de la Tinée and the Vésubie in November 1992, and are now established in the Parc National du Mercantour.

Wolves can cohabit with man. Wolves do not attack people, and will always stay as far away as they can. They are an integral part of the environment and, in addition to their beauty, serve a useful function. Wolves help control the populations of the wild dogs and other wild animals that are a real risk to sheep.

There is the eternal conflict between wolves and sheep farmers, although studies over several years in Italy show that only 6% of the wolves' prey are domestic animals. Sheep and wolves have been sharing the same land in Italy and Spain for a long time, and studies there have found methods of improving the protection of the sheep. In France, there is a system of technical and financial assistance to help the development of alpine sheep and dairy farming.


60-70 cm high; 140 cm long; 18-38 kg


Lives in mountain forests, between 1000 and 2200 m altitude. In the Mercantour, the wolves have a territory of 8 - 10,000 hectares (about 20,000 acres). Wolves are capable of living in a wide variety of environments, including plains and open mountains, but choose the most remote and best protected areas. They make their homes in abandoned fox or badger dens, which they enlarge. They also dig their own dens, usually under a rock, between the roots of a tree, in a small cave or in thick brush.


Prefers the young or elderly ungulates, such as chamois, moufflons, deer and boar, and a small percent of sheep and cattle. They also eat birds, insects, rabbits, hares, marmots and just about any small animal. In the summer, 65% of the wolf's diet is fruit.

Area Sightings

In Sept. 1996, wolves around the Massifs de Gordolasque and Authion, a few km northwest of the Col de Turini, had become enough of a nuisance that a "beat" was organized to scare them away from the area. Four hundred sheep and goats had been killed in the last year, 95% of them in this region. The "beat" was done by unarmed men without dogs, the intention being to scare the wolves away, not to harm or capture them.

In March 2009 wolves were sited or did actual damage in the Drôme department, near Montélimar and Crest [area map].
Sitings or sheep damage occured at the communes of Marsanne (15 km northeast of Montelimar), Pont-de-Barret (25 km northeast of Montelimar; 15 km south of Crest) and Aouste-sur-Sye (3 km southeast of Crest, on the Drome). Having wolves down on the plains west of the mountains is unusual, but not completely new. The previous December the body of a 38 kg wolf was found on the edges of Valence, a bit further north.