Ariège: why the density of wolves remains low

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Louis Gérard d’Escrienne, deputy director of the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB), talks about the singularity of the massif, which he thought would be populated much faster by wolves.

Has the number of wolves that have taken up residence in the Pyrenees been reduced? This is what some actually think is questioning the counts conducted by the OFB (French Office for Biodiversity), which is questioning these remarks.

“In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques at least one individual was detected and two others were identified in the two sectors of the Pyrénées-Orientales, but the definition of the sectors of presence is really not easy and we will never have a guarantee of knowing how many individuals is there because the wolf is a species that moves a lot with individuals leaving, others dying, explains Mr Petit, head of the wolf-lynx network in the Occitanie region, calling the zone of permanent presence presupposes that the presence of the species has been detected for at least two consecutive winters. “

In Ariège, if Perraults was completely seen in Orlu recently, we know he likes to “scramble Ariège and Aude” on the plain, in Razès. However, its population is not growing as specialists expected. “We realize that he is in environments that do not at all correspond to what we imagined for a wolf,” explains Louis-Gérard d’Escrienne, deputy director of OFB, we were convinced that the Pyrenees would be populated, while today , only a few hang out over an absolutely vast expanse The Pyrenees are almost the place where you are most peaceful!

Little change, therefore, in recent years in the Pyrenees, “which does not mean much, warns Mr. Petit, for on the wolf it is absolutely impossible to make predictions”.

“We were convinced that the Pyrenees would be populated by wolves …”

Who are these wolves roaming the territory? They are “spreaders” from the Alpine and Provencal massifs, their historical areas, and not of Iberian stock, which spread over the course of their lives to settle in other countries …

What challenges those who ensure its regular monitoring is truly the environment it has targeted. “What is certain is that the wolf adapts to everything,” emphasizes Louis-Gérard d’Escrienne. “In the imagination, we tend to see it in large mountain or forest massifs, but in fact that is not the case. If we have to take a quite telling example is that a wolf that settled for two years in costières-de-nîmes, in the middle of the vineyard, is not necessarily the type of habitat where one would consider its presence.

How do specialists explain this population stagnation in the Pyrenees? “The wolf density is much lower than in the Alpine or Provencal massifs because there are no identified females in the Pyrenees and therefore no fry have been found yet”, states Mr. Petit.

The only one who had been seen nearby finally headed east. “Thanks to genetics, we know that the female at the origin of the herd in Var is the one whose trace we found in the Pyrénées Orientales a little earlier. Has she met males who do not like it? We” I never know. So she walked along the whole Mediterranean without anyone seeing her. “

“There were two wolves in the POs ten years ago, and there may still be only two today,” sums up Louis-Gérard d’Escrienne. but that’s the number we’m sure we are not saying there are no more … Well, not even four times as many as some say. “


  • How do bears and wolves live together?

What information do we have about a possible cohabitation between the wolf and the bear? “In Ariège, the wolf’s permanent presence sector is located on the Razès, on the plain side, and therefore not at all in the bear’s known habitats. After all, there was also a fairly significant presence in the Carlit sector recently, but it is sectors that remain on the fringes of the bear’s line “, clarifies Louis-Gérard d’Escrienne, Deputy Director of OFB. So everyone at home in short at the moment.

The wolf in the periphery of the bear distribution period

“Currently, there are still not many areas where we observe the regular presence of both bears and wolves. Camera traps allow us to provide basic survey coverage, which allows us to deploy a unit in the sectors we need to monitor. “Everything else goes beyond providing data.”

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