It has been nearly a century since the last wolf was spotted in the region of Southern France.
A wolf has been spotted near the border between Charente and Dordogne – an area where it had been thought wolves were extinct.
According to RFI News in France, “The French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) confirmed a grey wolf had been sighted near the Charente department’s border with Dordogne after a local woman spotted the animal in her car and filmed it with her smartphone around 10 am on Monday.”
The grey wolf sighting has now been confirmed by France’s biodiversity office l’Office français de la biodiversité – which marks the first confirmed wolf presence in Charente since 1926.
“He passed within two or three metres of the car,” she told Le Parisien. “At first I thought it was a big dog, but it looked a lot like a wolf. He was scared, you could tell he was scared.”
She photographed and filmed the animal on her phone, and the sighting has now been confirmed by the OFB, which monitors wolf activity in France.
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The sighting happened less than a kilometre from Varraniac-François’s home in the hamlet of Gurat. The video shows the wolf trotting down a country road in broad daylight before turning and running across a pasture.
Hunted to extinction in France in the 1930s, wolves began to reappear in the Alps in the 1990s, crossing over from Italy.
Officials estimated there were 530 wolves in France at the end of the 2018-2019 winter, up from 430 the previous year. Most are concentrated in the Alps and eastern regions, but they have bene spotted as far afield as Burgundy, the Paris region and even the Somme in the north.
“The species is known for its great dispersal capacity, especially during the territory search phase. Thus, since its reappearance in the Southern Alps in 1992, the wolf has crossed territories as far away as the Pyrenees, Lorraine, Burgundy and the Somme”, said a spokesman for the OFB.
Farmers in the region are the only ones who should have concern, for their livestock, not for humans.
“Wolves, even if they can be curious, are naturally fearful,” Jean-Yves Morellec, head of the OFB in Charente, told Le Parisien. “They prefer expanses with little human presence and a high density of ungulates, deer, roe deer and wild boars.”