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MAP: Where in France do wolves live?

The Local France
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MAP: Where in France do wolves live?
Wolves live in the wild in France. Photo: AFP

Once hunted to extinction, wolves are making a steady comeback in France and now nearly half of the country's 96 mainland départements have reported a regular or semi-regular wolf presence.


Latest statistics from the Office français de la biodiversité show that 53 of mainland France's 96 départements have reported the occasional or regular presence of wolves.

Wolves are mostly concentrated in the east of the country - mainly in the Alps - but are also frequently spotted in the Pyrenees along the border with Spain, while southern départements including Charente, Dordogne and Tarn have also recorded a wolf presence.

There have been occasional sightings in areas further north including Normandy and the greater Paris region

Graphic: OFB

For the interactive version of this map, showing how wolf presence has spread since 1995, click here.

They generally prefer to stay well away from humans and inhabit some of the more remote areas of France. 

The French Office national de la chasse et de la faune sauvage (national office for hunting and wildlife) which monitors wolves estimates that there are now around 1,104 adult wolves living in France.

Wolves were officially declared extinct in France in the 1930s after hunting wiped out the last remaining populations.


But from 1992 onwards they were steadily reintroduced, starting with the regions bordering Italy, and their numbers have been increasing in recent years.

Their presence has not been without problems, however, especially from farmers who fear for their livelihoods when wolves start killing sheep.

French farmers Toulouse protest about the reintroduction of wolves and bears to the countryside. Photo: AFP

The French state authorises the culling of a certain number of wolves per year to keep the population in check, but the killings can only be carried out under strict conditions.

In 2019, 3,674 wolf attacks led to the deaths of some 12,500 animals, mainly sheep.

Under a "Wolf Plan" adopted in 2018, the "viability threshold" of 500 animals - the level at which the population is likely to avoid becoming at risk  of extinction over a 100-year period - wasn't expected to be reached until 2023.

However, wolves topped 500 in 2018 and are now over 1,000. 

The cull limit has been raised in response to the quicker than expect population growth. 

"We now consider that the wolf is no longer a species at risk of extinction, which is a good thing in terms of biodiversity," said Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume.

"However in terms of the high levels of preying... we have to fully and strongly support our farmers. Their well-being is our priority," he said.


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Anonymous 2019/09/09 22:09
Wow, 12,500 animals killed for food by wolves, set against hundreds of millions killed by humans for food in the same period. (750,000,000 chickens alone.) Makes one feel sorry for the farmers.

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