In Umbria and the Abruzzi the wolf was never eradicated, unlike in the Alps. A wolf population of more than 500 individuals is estimated to live in central Italy, trend increasing. The wolves are returning to the Alpine region. An estimate of approx. 18 packs comprising of 70-100 animals live in Piemont. The bear occurrence in the Alps is limited mainly to Trentino and secondly to Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardia and Veneto for a total of approximately 50 bears, whistl in the Abruzzi region survive 40-50 individuals of the Marsican subspecies. In southern regions greater problems also arise with stray and poaching dogs.
Historically national park areas of Gran Sasso-Laga, Majella and Abruzzo Lazio e Molise first dealt with wolf and bear relict populations conservation in Italy. Both compensation payment schemes and preventive measures have long been concentrated on these areas.
Fundamentally Italian regions have a great autonomy over the handling of management questions, moreover natural parks can apply their own rules. Due to the international and national protection status of bear and wolf, the hunting of these species is forbidden, though culling possibility is previewed in case of great livestock damages, but never applied.
In response to the expansion of the wolf to the Alpine area the region of Piedmont developed its own wolf damage prevention politics. Their strategy tries to adapt the management especially at the different structures of the Alpine regions.
Until today, the following goals are pursued in the wolf management:
- Revitalization of wild animal species
- Reduction of poaching
- Better control of the poaching and straying dogs
- Preventing the hybridization between wolves and dogs
- Improving the preventive methods
- Improving the compensation reimbursement practice
Damages caused by both large carnivores and poaching dogs are compensated, in most regions and parks only if protective measures are installed. Monetary reference values are fixed by the compensation tables with the agreement of breeders associations.
The wolf´s dispersal is mainly concentrated to the mountainous areas. These are shaped by very extensive agricultural practices such as traditional large- and small livestock farming. In mountain pastures livestock grazing during the summer seasons: in these months the majority of predations on domestic animal occurs.
In places where the large carnivores have never completely disappeared, the traditional grazing and guarding systems were maintained. In the other areas, the shepherds and herd guarding dogs have vanished. The need to guard herds arose only after the wolf´s expansion from central Italy and its return to the Alpine region. The traditional livestock breeding sector is dependent on the financial assistance from the EU.
In the ancient wolf territories of the Abruzzi, the traditional and extensive sheep pastures are prevalent. Shepherds, livestock guarding dogs and night-time fenced enclosures are the main utilized methods. From the North regions Liguria, Piedmont and Aosta only the Piedmont supports and implements systematic herd protection measures. Current endeavors want to privatize compensation payments and stop supporting the prevention measures. In Umbria alarm systems targeted at aversive noise conditioning are successfully applied. Protection fences (1.50m) are locally also successfully used. Farmers are only selectively supported within the borders of pilot projects. General financial help for preventative measures does not exist.