Home Newsletter 2009 The conflict with large carnivores in Monti Sibillini National Park

by Paolo Salvi

In spring 2009 three dead wolves were found in an area of only 100 m2 in the territory of the Monti Sibillini National Park. They had been poisoned and they did not show any external signs of traumas or injuries.

It was also possible to assess that the animals had died very quickly and almost simultaneously. This case, along with other poaching events that had occurred previously, is a clear sign of an obvious conflict between the presence of large carnivores and local communities. It shows how important and urgent it is to work towards achieving the objectives of initiatives such as the LIFE EX-TRA project.

In fact, in the past year 10 dead wolves have been found, which is over one third of the population estimated in the course of the monitoring campaign in 2008-2009. Of these, 8 wolves have died due to human causes, including events of direct persecution such as the up mentioned episode or the killing of wolves with guns and snares.
The wolf-howling activities carried out in the course of the Life EX-TRA project this year have pointed out a significant decrease of the wolf population in the Sibillini Mountain range, although this result will have to be verified during the winter snow-tracking session. Compared to the past years the number of rendez-vous sites (where the members of a wolf pack meet to raise their pups) has clearly decreased. This suggests that the observed mortality has affected the reproductive individuals of the majority of the present packs.
The Park has started several actions that aim to mitigate the conflicts between livestock raisers and large carnivores. For instance, electric fences have been installed in places where in past spring a bear (there is evidence of one single bear in the park territory) has damaged bee-hives.
Another initiative aims at the coordination of the bodies involved in the assessment of the damage caused by carnivores on livestock. In fact, in the Park territory two distinct procedures are used in the two areas belonging by two different administrative regions (Marche and Umbria). Up to now this has not allowed the park personnel to know the real impact of the presence of wolves and bears on livestock raising activities, and thus to develop adequate damage prevention strategies.
Through the development of the Life EX-TRA project the Park aims at coordinating the activities of all the bodies that intervene in the assessment and compensation of the damage on livestock, in order to reach a common procedure for the standardization, collection and management of data in the future.