Italian wolf, Apennine wolf
The Italian wolf (Canis lupus italicus or Canis lupus lupus ), also known as the Apennine wolf, is a subspecies of the grey wolf native to the Italian Peninsula. It inhabits the Apennine Mountains and the Western Alps, though it is undergoing expansion towards the north and east. As of 2022 the wolf population within Italy is estimated to be 3,307 individuals. Although not universally recognised as a distinct subspecies, it nonetheless possesses a unique mtDNA haplotype and a distinct skull morphology.Show More
It has been strictly protected in Italy since the 1970s, when the population reached a low of 70–100 individuals. The population is increasing in number, though illegal hunting and persecution still constitute a threat. Since the 1990s, the Italian wolf's range has expanded into southeastern France and Switzerland.
The Italian wolf features prominently in Latin and Italian cultures, such as in the legend of the founding of Rome.It is the national animal of Italy.Show Less
The Italian wolf typically weighs 25–35 kg (55–77 lb), though some large males have been weighed at 40–45 kg (88–99 lb). It measures 110–148 cm (43–58 in) in body length and 50–70 cm (20–28 in) in shoulder height. The pelt is generally of a grey-fulvous colour, which reddens in summer. The belly and cheeks are more lightly coloured, and dark bands are present on the back and tail tip, and occasionally along the fore limbs. Black wolves have been reported in the north-central Apennines, though their origin is unknown, as some melanistic individuals show no sign of wolf-dog hybridisation. It typically lives in packs of two to seven individuals.
Wolf populations strongly declined across Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries largely due to human persecution, and by the end of the Second World War they had been eradicated from all of Central Europe and almost all of Northern Europe. Their population decline continued until the 1960s, with isolated populations surviving in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Finland. Wolf populations have commenced recovering naturally since then.