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Marucco F.,Centro Gestione Conservazione Grandi Carnivori | Marucco F.,University of Montana | McIntire E.J.B.,Laval University
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2010

Wolves Canis lupus recently recolonized the Western Alps through dispersal from the Italian Apennines, representing one of several worldwide examples of large carnivores increasing in highly human-dominated landscapes. Understanding and predicting expansion of this population is important for conservation because of its direct impact on livestock and its high level of societal opposition. We built a predictive, spatially explicit, individual-based model to examine wolf population expansion in this fragmented landscape, and livestock depredation risk. We developed the model based on known demographic processes, social structure, behaviour and habitat selection of wolves collected during a 10-year intensive field study of this wolf population. During model validation, our model accurately described the recolonization process within the Italian Alps, correctly predicting wolf pack locations, pack numbers and wolf population size, between 1999 and 2008. We then projected packs and dispersers over the entire Italian Alps for 2013, 2018 and 2023. We predicted 25 packs (95% CI: 19-32) in 2013, 36 (23-47) in 2018 and 49 (29-68) in 2023. The South-Western Alps were the main source for wolves repopulating the Alps from 1999 to 2008. The source area for further successful dispersers will probably shift to the North-Western Alps after 2008, but the large lakes in the Central Alps will probably act as a spatial barrier slowing the wolf expansion. Using the pack presence forecasts, we estimated spatially explicit wolf depredation risk on livestock, allowing tailored local and regional management actions. Synthesis and applications. Our predictive model is novel because we follow the spatio-temporal dynamics of packs, not just population size, which have substantially different requirements and impacts on wolf-human conflicts than wandering dispersers. Our approach enables prioritization of management efforts, including minimizing livestock depredations, identifying important corridors and barriers, and locating future source populations for successful wolf recolonization of the Alps. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society.

Dalmasso S.,Centro Gestione Conservazione Grandi Carnivori | Vesco U.,Centro Gestione Conservazione Grandi Carnivori | Orlando L.,Centro Gestione Conservazione Grandi Carnivori | Tropini A.,Progetto Lupo | Passalacqua C.,Progetto Lupo
Hystrix | Year: 2012

Wolves' natural recolonization in the Western Alps in the early 1990s resulted in increased in depredation events. The Piedmont Regional Administration has been running a program aimed at monitoring the wolf expansion process and mitigating the human-wolf conflict since 1999. Three key actions, i) compensation of canids (wolf and dog) damage; ii) a subsidy system to promote good livestock husbandry practices; iii) promotion of preventive measures, were used to prevent and compensate damage caused by wolves. Direct damage was verified by veterinarians and refunded according to an annually updated price list. In addition indirect losses were compensated on a lump-sum basis proportional to the herd size for each attack. Since 2007 a subsidy system has rewarded shepherds who, pasturing within the home range of wolf packs and in neighbouring areas, have adopted good management practices and preventive measures. Ad hoc damage prevention plans have mainly addressed chronic situations. Changes in animal husbandry (removal of dead livestock from pastures, confining sick animals, synchronizing births and using shed lambing), promotion of use of electric fences and introduction of livestock guarding dogs (LGDs) have been the most common interventions. A new model of electrified net has been developed and LGDs have been selected and diffused; LGDs behavioural research is in progress. The Regional wolf Program integrates different measures to manage the human-wolf conflict: not only to compensate depredation damages, but also to stimulate the adoption of husbandry practices compatible with the presence of wolves. Actually, in order to promote wolf tolerance by livestock owners, the Program aimed to distribute wolf conservation costs more equitably and involve farmers in decisional processes. ©2012 Associazione Teriologica Italiana.

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